Thursday, 22 October 2020


Young talent shines at “Chef’s Night” in Tairua

Backing their Flock whānau is part of the ethos at the popular Tairua restaurant and on Friday evening last week the young ones were the stars of the show as they unleashed their creative talents on “Chef’s Night.”

Three young trainee chefs, none of them over 20, designed and prepared their own Asian tapas menu for more than 40 diners, with the feast and its creators acknowledged with an impressive line-up of compliments and enthusiastic applause when they bravely greeted their customers at the end of the night.

This was the restaurant’s second Chef’s Night, an event aimed at providing young cooks an opportunity to push themselves creatively and showcase what they can do to the wider community. “We know what they are capable of, they just need to have that confidence in themselves and that’s what this is about,” said Flock head chef and co-owner, Sara Fordham.

Eighteen-year-old Bella Ramage and 20-year-old Haylee Cammock were two of the chefs in action on Friday. “Haylee has done her training at Wintec, but a year ago Bella had never been in a kitchen before,” Sara said. “She started here doing tables, but I could see she was keen to cook, so I told her to get in there.”

Likewise, Ziggy Heath, who is back in the kitchen letting his cooking skills do the talking, has been another rising star of Flock’s high-trust model. “Ziggy started here two years ago washing dishes, but you can see his passion for food,” Sara said. “His dad is a chef and he just needed an opportunity to be able to show what he can do, to himself more than anyone else, and it’s quite amazing how far he has come. We are so proud of what they are all achieving.”

Bella, who is originally from Coroglen and also studying horticulture, described herself as pretty much obsessed by food. “Whenever I go eat anywhere, I am looking at what they have done, getting ideas and inspiration, and making mental notes,” she said.

For her Chef’s Night dish, Bella has put her own twist on a banh mi, serving it with a kimchi mayo. “It’s definitely not traditional, I’ve changed it up quite a bit, but I think it works,” she said.

Haylee served a Malaysian inspired Prawn Fritter which she has researched and practised diligently. “I did feel nervous, it’s not something I have made before, so I really hoped people like it,” she said.” There was no need for her to have any doubt. “Haylee is an incredible cook, she just needs a little more confidence and she is going to do great things,” Sara said.

Sara said the team got through the evening together by supporting each other. “There are no titles here,” she said. “No-one is above anyone else and we are all learning together. They teach me things as well.”

Looking ahead, the goal is to push these up-and-comers to learn everything they can. “Whatever they are interested in within the business, there is an opportunity for them,” Sara said.

The fact they may fly the Flock nest at some stage is just part of the process. “When we bought this business two years ago, we wanted it to become part of the community,” Sara said. “Supporting our young people is part of that and it’s something we believe strongly in.”

Pictured: Young chefs, Bella Ramage and Haylee Cammock, at work in the Flock kitchen in Tairua.


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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.