One of my favourite parts in Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’ Diary is when the hapless Bridget is trying to introduce people to each other at a book launch. I got the giggles thinking about it at the Wellington On A Plate launch on Monday night when I realised I was doing the same thing. “Helen, this is Iva, who does things with chocolate. Iva, this is Helen, who is in olive oil.”
In the spirit of introductions, I’d like you to meet Allison Pirrie-Mawer, of Pease Pudding. Alli is a trained chef, runs a cookschool, works in HR, surfs and takes beautiful photos. She’s also the driving force behind the New Zealand Food Bloggers Association. She won’t reveal where she gets the time to do all these things, but she has shared a few other secrets for The Kitchenmaid’s new ‘Be My Guest’ series, in which I plan to introduce you to all sorts of interesting people and their blogs.
|Jammie Dodgers with cinnamon and ginger. Image: Allison Pirrie-Mawer|
When did you start your blog?
My first blog post was in November 2008. It still makes me laugh when I look back on the photos, but I will never remove them because they show me how far I have come. Back in 2008 I fancied writing my own recipe book and thought blogging would be a good test. I’m not sure I would want to write a book now, though but never say never. I would be keen to get my photography up to publishing level and photograph for other people’s books though.
What’s your blog about?
Four years ago it was about practicing to write a book, now it’s probably more about being creative with new ideas and recipes and my newfound obsession with food photography. I’m constantly trying to improve on it. I am one of those people who constantly thinks about food, my posts are planned and styled days in advance in my head, not that they always come out how I want or expect!
|Soy salmon with avocado, lime and wasabi salsa. Image: Allison Pirrie-Mawer|
Do you have any culinary training or professional experience?
Yes, I went to culinary college in the UK straight from school while doing a chef’s apprenticeship at the same time. I worked in the industry for nine years in Liverpool, London and then Germany. I moved out of the industry for a while and now have come back to it. I opened my own cooking school on the wild west coast of New Zealand three years ago.
Who’s your food hero?
I still have that pull towards the homeland and Brit chefs, I love how Jamie made cooking accessible to all. Nigel Slater not only has great food but is also fun to read. Bill Cotter is one of my favourite vegetarian writers.
Here in New Zealand I love the passion and humour of Peta Mathias and I would also love to spend my winters in France cooking like she does.
Masterchef and TV food shows – hot or not?
This might be a bit of a shock but I don’t have TV so I don’t watch any regularly. When travelling to Sydney for work I do watch the AU Masterchef and other food channel programmes and enjoy them. I like that Masterchef has developed peoples’ interest in cooking,. It also means our blogs become more popular as a result of the every day person looking for new recipes.
|Chocolate chip gingernut biscuits. Image: Allison Pirrie-Mawer|
What are your three favourite posts?
I’m not sure I have favourite posts. I do like the photo on my gingernut biscuit post but that is probably because it is one of the latest and I am happy with the way the images I am taking are improving.
Tell us about another blog you love.
There are so many blogs I follow. Visually I love What Katie Ate, she’s my food photography inspiration. Then there is Food Blog and the Dog, about a vegetarian Brit living in Spain, Natalie always brings something new to the table, having also run her own restaurant in Spain and she also gives us an insight to her daily life there.
What’s for dinner tonight?
Ok, don’t go stealing this one – I haven’t posted it yet! Roast Chicken on a Pearl Barley and Zaatar Braise served with a Winter Coleslaw.
What else do you do?
I work as a human resource manager four days a week for an electronics company in Auckland and Sydney, hence all the travel. As well as that I run my cooking school, The Gourmet Gannet, in Muriwai, Auckland.
Who do you cook for at home?
I cook for hubby and the girls at work benefit from all my baking (there’s no way hubby and I need to eat it all by ourselves). My two cats think we cook for them too and always try and be part of evening meals – spoilt is the only word for them.
|Pork cheek, fennel and cider couture pies. Image: Allison Pirrie-Mawer|