Mark Griffiths and Carmel Draper moved to the Matakana region ten years ago. As passionate foodies they’re hugely inspired by local artisan food producers and are dedicated to showcasing them. Mark has a lifetime of chef experience and tutoring behind him, and the pair have put this to good use. Opening The Gourmet Within a couple of years ago, they’ve worked hard to find the right space in the market for it. They’ve now rebranded it as The Local Food Kitchen, Matakana.

Carmel says, “It just feels right. Promoting our local food is an integral part of everything Mark offers. It’s his passion.” They’ll still run favourite workshops such as the Local Food Experience, where guests go to the Matakana Farmers’ Markets with Chef Mark, gather produce, meet local producers, then cook and eat together. And bookable group cooking classes are always on the menu. Producers include Whangaripo Valley Buffalo Cheeses, Matakana Nut Butters, Sunwalker Chillies, Mahurangi Oysters and Matakana Olive Co-op, to name a few.

The LFK also continues to offer corporate events with exceptional coordinator Kathryn Jansen. She works with many local businesses including Riverside Matakana, Kourawhero Lodge, The Vintry and Kleur Glass to round out her team-building workshops.

Now the Local Food Kitchen has added monthly Sunday Sessions for home chefs to hone their skills. Tasting sessions are available for those who can’t be here on market day. And private dining is also an option, either in the LFK’s gorgeous private dining room or in your own home. Mark often caters high-end events and works closely with Matakana Estate Vineyard (soon to be expanding – watch this space).

“We’re putting all our energy now into giving locals and visitors an appreciation for this region’s quality artisan foods – and finding the joy in cooking with them,” says Carmel.