Ruth Pretty’s New Zealand Experience

April 1, 2012

An International Association of Culinary Professionals experience.

It’s Sunday. My taxi is racing behind an ambulance towards Soho. This must be considered the New York express lane. Today smells good. Crisp air, coffee beans, and a modest amount of anticipation.  My morning cooking workshop promises food.

Ruth Pretty, a 25 year food veteran, embodies the spirit of global cooks.  Generous, passionate and knowledgeable,  Ruth likes to nourish and in her demo kitchen, no student goes hungry.

I settle into my stool ready to enjoy the tastes of New Zealand.  Green-lipped mussels and poached salmon are quickly garnished by Ruth’s efficient team.  For a moment, I consider jumping ship to the Pad Thai presentation down the hallway.  Mussels and salmon don’t seem a good fit with my Dean and Deluca coffee but the genial buzz in the kitchen and the display of Marlborough sauvignon blanc on the counter, are enough to keep me interested.

To my right, sits a food editor from Des Moines, Iowa.  On my left, a culinary conference veteran from Amsterdam (by way of England) who hasn’t missed a conference in 20 years. I’m recognizing a pattern.  Culinary professionals cannot be defined by one type of conference attendee.  Diversity is everywhere.

Ruth sets some chilled wine on the counter directly in front of me.  She peers over the rim of her glasses and wears a slight grin.  “Shall we get started?”, she asks.

“Immediately” is the only response.

Ruth does more than teach, she inspires.  Her hands never stop moving as she weaves stories of childhood roasts, extinct birds once eaten by Māori tribes and marmite smuggling into the food preparation.  I am enchanted not only by the sights and scents of her kitchen but by Ruth herself and the depth of her food love.

Each new wine (there are eight) is presented with consideration and joy.  The simplicity of the meat is enhanced by the complexity and range of her expertise.

There is laughter and learning.  I feel connected.

This is how good food is experienced.

And those mussels and salmon I almost skipped are new favorites.

My deepest gratitude to Ruth Pretty, who might find me at her New Zealand doorstep, ready for another cheesy Marmite toasty.

Ruth’s menu

  • Grilled Cheesy Mar-mite Toast
  • New Zealand Lee Fish Greenshell Mussels on half shell with Ruth Pretty Tomato Chilli Jam
  • New Zealand King Salmon and Watercress Salad with Ginger Coriander Dressing
  • New Zealand Lee Fish Snapper Fillets with Verjuice Butter Sauce and Wilted Spinach
  • Fresh New Zealand Lamb Racks with Minted Pea Puree and Blackcurrant Pinot Noir Jus
  • New Zealand Cervena Natural Venison Racks with Lemon and Peppercorn Paste and Olive Oil Enriched Jus
  • New Zealand Grass Fed Roast Fillet of Beef with Salsa Verde
For more on Ruth and her incredible catering visit Ruth Pretty Catering (even the website is inspiring!)

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