BLOG NEWS: Martin Bosley says product information essential

Martin Bosley image

Media Chef Martin Bosley, recently spoke at the Vegetables New Zealand product group day at the 2013 Horticulture New Zealand Conference.

In New Zealand we have an assurance programme known as New Zealand GAP which provides a traceable, accountable system from crop to customer. GAP stands for Good Agricultural Practice, and ensures that best practices are employed in the production, packaging and distribution of vegetables.

Martin believes that access to product information and the market channel is imperative as we move further and further from the source of our food. ”I want the same information for every ingredient that enters the kitchen – particularly those that were produced in this country as there is value in their story.”

Over the 30 years Martin has been in the industry, New Zealand’s food culture has changed considerably; as it grew, so did the food knowledge of the guests in his restaurants. Consumer consciousness has changed and ‘sustainability’ and ‘provenance’ have become key words in a waiter’s vocabulary.

Cooking is Martin’s life, passion, and obsession. He comes from a background where his parents cooked delicious meals each week and by the time he was 9 he was proficient enough to make an after-school a batch of profiteroles.

Martin is first and foremost a cook, but he is more than ‘just a chef’. He is a restaurateur, the author of two cookbooks, for six years has written the food column in Air New Zealand’s in-flight magazine, Kia Ora, and has been on MasterChef in both Australia and New Zealand.

Paradoxically, the rise of television cooking shows has led to a decrease in the number of people cooking in their own kitchens. The preparation of our meals has been handed over to the industry, be it boutique or global, and has led to the rise of the celebrity chefs, known more for their personality than their ability to cook.

Cooking has become a spectator sport, however, we now all know how to slow-cook lamb shanks and make risotto. This has happened because food remains a powerful force in our lives – it’s emotional and it has a psychological grip over us. We’ve always watched other people cooking if we weren’t cooking ourselves.

Whether it is simmering broccoli, tossing a salad or preserving some seasonal vegetables, an extraordinary transformation takes place when we cook; an ingredient magically changes into something more than the sum of its parts.

By reading recipes we learn about a dish and the chef; we find a story, elements of a tradition, a culture, and we learn about ingredients. Martin believes that culture + food = humanity, and he researches cultures, philosophy, religions and literature.

Martin has a profound and deep respect for nature and all that is provided; how we can take a handful of grass seed and make bread or beer from it. Cooking puts him in touch with plants, animals, the soil, farmers, the people he feeds. He feels that cooking nourishes both heart and soul – “there is no greater gift of generosity than to cook for someone” he said.

The basis of Martin’s success through cooking for others is having great ingredients, and increasingly, ingredients that have a story, a provenance behind them. It’s what his restaurant guests expect him to have found out on their behalf.

The high value placed on New Zealand provenance comes from:

  • well handled, well packaged, responsibly farmed product
  • appropriately priced product that can be supplied consistently
  • product with a story – with value attached to its provenance
  • access to products that are unique.
New Zealand GAP provides that assurance. By meeting the standards required under New Zealand GAP, growers are able to demonstrate to their customers that their products are of a high quality, produced in a sustainable manner and are safe to eat, all of which means you can buy with confidence.

New Zealand GAP has been successfully benchmarked against international quality assurance programmes, such as Global Gap, as well as New Zealand and Australian supermarket programmes. For more information ask your vegetable supplier or wholesaler about New Zealand GAP, or visit www.newzealandgap.co.nz