In-house Zea Gourmet Chef Hamish Brass was lucky enough to sit down with Analiese Gregory recently to chat all things food, career, sustainability and more.
If you’re not already a huge fan like us, Analiese is the author of ‘How Wild Things Are’ and a widely known chef in Australia and New Zealand. You may have seen her on SBS show ‘A Girl's Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Wild Cooking’ which follows Analiese as she builds a new life in Tasmania - learning to hunt, fish and forage, sharing her journey of discovery and change.
Analiese also created a delicious recipe using our favourite Tasmanian native ingredient, Kunzea. She shared her Kunzea-infused Wallaby on her show, but you can also find it here if you’re looking for some fun, native cooking inspiration.
Hamish absolutely loved chatting with Analiese and we hope you enjoy the chat below.
HAMISH CHATS WITH ANALIESE GREGORY
Zea: Hi Analiese! How about we start with an intro to our Zea customers on your background, who you are and what you do?
Analiese: I'm originally from New Zealand, but I am currently living in Tasmania and have been for the last five years. I'm a professional chef by trade, starting out in New Zealand when I was 16 and then working around Auckland and Wellington. I moved to London when I was about 17 or 18, and then just cooked my way through Europe. I came to Australia and worked at Quay in Sydney for 5 years then went back to Europe, spent some more time in France, Spain, North Africa and Morocco - places like that, before ending up in Tasmania.
Zea: Did you always dream of being a chef? And did you know that was what you wanted to do? Or are there other things that kind of challenged that career choice?
Analiese: No, actually - when I was little, I really wanted to be a vet because I really love animals but then I thought, I don't want to hurt them, I don't want to have to do operations on them, and things like that, so it was an interesting final career choice.
I always loved cooking at home and when I was around 15 years old, everyone was saying to me “just do something that you love, and that way you won't have to work a day in your life”, which is really not true, because then you take your passion and you turn it into your full time job. *laughs* But yes, that’s what I did!
Zea: How would you say that the food options here differ to other places in the world and why would you say they [Australian, New Zealand ingredients] are special?
Analiese: I mean, sometimes when I've cooked in other places, you feel as if you need to be really authentic to that place, like Spain for example. In other countries, like Australia and New Zealand, it's very multicultural, multiracial, so these days I feel able to cook bits of Chinese, bits of French food, bits of Spanish things without fear of judgement or anything. You can kind of create what you’d like to.
Zea: Apart from your own book [How Wild Things Are] of course, do you have any other cooking books that you gravitate to?
Analiese: There is a book that is quite old now. It's called Cooking By Hand by Paul Bertoli. He was one of the first Head Chefs at a legendary San Francisco restaurant - it’s loosely Italian, but coversall the basics. Things from pasta from scratch, gnocchi from scratch, how to make it silky but really decent, good solid recipes that work.
Zea: You clearly have a passion for the outdoors and nature. I've noticed that fishing appears quite a bit on your Instagram and show [‘A Girl's Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Wild Cooking’] and seems to be a big interest to you. Do you have any fishing stories or experiences that really stand out?
Analiese: Oh well, I was just back in New Zealand three weeks ago and my mum said “oh, I'm not in Auckland, I've gone up north for the week”, it was bad timing but I said “okay - I'll come up and see you” and drove up to the Bay of Islands on the whim. We ended up going snapper fishing off the rocks, out front of a hotel and pulled in all of these massive snapper. It was crazy. I was like, why did I leave, this is fantastic! *laughs*
Zea: This is a fun question. If you were to choose any three chefs who could cook for you, who would you pick?
Analiese: Ooh, okay! I would say Peter Gilmore would be one of them. Michel Bras and not a specific chef, but I'd want to go to a really super high-end Cantonese restaurant in China, I think.
Zea: I came across you from your ‘Kunzea Wallaby’ recipe which was just amazing, is there anything else regarding Kunzea and cooking that you’ve experimented with before?
Analiese: When I am roasting vegetables I often put dried or fresh Kunzea in there, and I do this thing called gastrique, you do some honey, water and vinegar and reduce them down together, like sweet-and-sour essentially - I often put Kunzea into that, and use it over recipes like lamb ribs. Sometimes I put Kunzea back into the honey - the leaves back in. I find Kunzea and honey go really well together.
Zea: Are there any projects or anything exciting that you're working on at the moment?
Analiese: Yes! I'm going to do 3 different noodle pop-ups at Dark Mofo (in Hobart), just because it's something that I really enjoy cooking. There are also talks to do a second season of the series. Then I'm putting a commercial kitchen into a shed at my house, so that I can work from home more and do recipe testing and stuff from there and not have to do it from my actual kitchen.
Zea: We're all about wellness, wellbeing and sustainability at Zea and so talking about these amazing things that you've experienced and done, what does wellness and wellbeing mean to you?
Analiese: For a really long time I would work 16 hours a day and it was all about work, and I was very disciplined. Now, wellbeing means taking some time for myself, taking some AG time. I have a friend called Jamie and she calls it Jamie-time, so I call it Analiese-time. *laughs*
That can be something different depending on the week and depending on what I need - sometimes it's just taking a long walk to decompress. Sometimes it's climbing a mountain to clear my head, you know, sometimes it's doing a face mask, and having a bath and sitting in front of the fire. It can be different, like being more in tune to your body and what it needs - and also staying mentally well, knowing what you need to stay on the straight and narrow.
Zea: Thanks so much for your time today Analiese!
It was an honour to get to chat to Analiese and her experiences around the globe and here in Australia and New Zealand. We cannot wait to see what’s next on her journey!