Delicious & Local - Lauraine Jacobs

If you stop by the fresh produce stalls on the way to Omaha this summer, don’t be surprised if you bump into renowned food writer, Lauraine Jacobs.

For the last 15 years, Lauraine has delighted in the ‘wealth of horticulture’ available on the Omaha Flats. “I marvel at the produce at this time of year. Beautiful table grapes, avocados, beans and sweetcorn.”

“When we built our beach house at Omaha in 2002, there was only one stall at Quail Farm. If they only grew courgettes and potatoes, then that’s what we had for dinner every night. When you eat seasonally you realise how important it is.”

Lauraine’s love for Omaha began with childhood holidays on the Tāwaharanui peninsula, sleeping on the beach at Christian Bay. “Driving home there was an amazing view of Omaha; before the causeway went in, it was a remote beach.”

A lifelong foodie, Lauraine trained at the Cordon Bleu in London, returning home to teach cooking classes from her Auckland home. She began food writing in the 1980s, becoming a food editor of the newly published Cuisine magazine, then writing a popular column in The Listener for the last seven years. “I never trained in journalism, but I’m incredibly curious at heart. Whenever I hear something that’s the slightest bit different, my ears prick up.”

Over her career she’s written nine food and recipe books and picked up an array of accolades: former president and board member of the prestigious International Association of Culinary Professionals (where she served alongside Julia Child), President of the New Zealand Guild of Food Writers, Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the food industry…her list of achievements goes on… and on and on. 

Despite her international renown, Lauraine still delights in discovering artisans and innovative foodies close to home. She was involved in the early stages of the Matakana Village Farmers’ Market, with long-time friend Christine Didsbury, Trish Allen and Joe Polaischer. “People said farmers’ markets wouldn’t last five years. It has been amazing to see local people start their businesses at the market and get traction.”

“I’m a passionate supporter of artisan food producers and farmers, whether large or small. For me, agriculture and horticulture will always remain the backbone of this country.”

Right now, Lauraine is fired up about food waste and sustainability, thanks to her latest passion project as editor of the New Zealand section of Truth Love and Clean Cutlery. It’s an international guide to restaurants striving for true sustainability in every direction.

“This is the story of tomorrow. People want to spend their money with someone who cares about the source of the food, about their staff, about the community; and of course the food must be delicious.”

She’s also excited about the emergence of a new wave of Māori cuisine. “It’s the one true point of difference we have in New Zealand.” She cites the Pūhā and Pākehā food store in Grey Lynn, innovative high-end restaurant Hiakai in Wellington and the recent ‘extraordinary’ Creation pop-up dinner, by chefs Kasey and Karena Bird, which has a menu that told the story of Ranginui and Papatūānuku and featured Matakana’s Honest Chocolat.  

So what’s on the menu at Omaha this summer? “My husband, Murray would be thrilled if we ate fish and salad every night,” she laughs. “I’ve simplified my cooking over the years. I’m interested in pure, fresh food, as close to the source as you can get it.”

“My philosophy is, if it’s simple to make, it will be simple to eat and everyone will love it.”

Lauraine’s latest cookbook, Always Delicious, is out now.

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