If you enjoy food that is fresh, local, seasonal and organic then you really should take a trip up the hill to our favourite cafe, Delicacy by Alison Lambert (595 Highgate, Maori Hill). The food is all of these things but more. It’s artistically presented and the combinations of flavours are creative. Last but not least, it tastes damn good. Alison has recently taken over and transformed Delicacy with the help of her great team, including husband Simon.
Alison has passion, enthusiasm and dedication for what she does, with a good dose of girl power thrown in. Her life story is one of the most interesting you’ll ever hear. Food runs in the family. Alison grew up, in Dunedin, eating food grown by her father and cooked by her mother. She learnt her first baking skills in the family kitchen. Her love of food was evident from the moment she could talk, even turning a doll’s house into a restaurant.
Naturally, Alison trained as a chef after leaving school and headed overseas. Arriving in London, she applied for jobs in the top ten restaurants and was offered all of them. She worked in Aubergine (with Gordon Ramsay) as well as The Ivy. She found her niche when she discovered The River Cafe via their first cookbook and they offered her a job. There, she worked alongside Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (River Cottage). She was involved with River Cafe Cook Book Two.
From there, Alison spent some time travelling around Europe. This included running a taverna in Greece, one of her favourite countries. She learnt a lot about local produce and ingredients from living in a small Greek village. Lucky for us, family ties and expecting her third child brought her home to Dunedin.
Since then, Alison has been on a mission to encourage us all to get back in the kitchen with her simple unpretentious food ideas. She is hugely involved with the highly successful Otago Farmers Market, where you will always find her cooking up a storm in the mobile kitchen/caravan. Each week, Alison demonstrates how to make four different delicious dishes, showcasing local producers. She had already proved her cooking capabilities in the caravan by planning and presenting menus for students on a budget for Orientation Week in 2010. She continues to be involved with O Week.
Alison is also involved with the Community Garden project in South Dunedin where unused/donated land is being turned into a productive garden to help troubled youth in the area.
If all of this isn’t enough, she also runs a Food Club with themed demonstrations. Her next goal is to produce her own cookbook. Alison, we don’t know how you do it! You are an inspiration.
You can follow Alison’s food exploits on her blog, ‘Taste of My Life’.