Ask any chef what’s the secret of good cooking and they’ll likely say “fresh ingredients”. At Cable Bay Vineyards, produce is literally plucked, dug or snipped fresh from the source — our on-site organic gardens — to be presented on the plates at our pair of restaurants that same day. Our chefs truly know how to make the most of the gardens’ sumptuous vegetables, edible flowers and micro-greens to create a range of mouth watering culinary delights.
Developed in 2015 with a vision to produce fresh produce for the restaurants, the gardens also serve to establish an effective waste management system. Head gardener Nicky Reynolds explains: “Living on Waiheke Island gives you a true appreciation of the beauty and fragility of our unique environment. We want to be as self-sustainable as possible, establishing kitchen gardens reduces the food miles of our produce supply and effectively eliminates food waste from the kitchen through composting.” All food waste is processed through a bokashi composting system that results in a nutrient-rich soil in which more produce can be grown.
Head chef Max Larbiose is thrilled with the set up. “My love of food started with an appreciation for quality ingredients,” he says. “Ones that didn’t need to hide beneath sauces, that could stand up on their own right. Fresh ingredients inspire me.” Both Max and Nicky agree that the quality of the produce is outstanding. The rich soil and hand nurturing allow the plants to thrive, resulting in full flavours that burst with freshness. Max showcases the fruits of Nicky’s labour in the kitchen, creating honest dishes that put their fresh produce on show.
The garden has matured and continues to grow with extensive development planned for 2018. Employees now supply paper and cardboard waste from the office to worm farms, which produce a nutrient-rich fertiliser that supports the bokashi system. It can also be sprayed onto plants as a health tonic. The juice created from the bokashi composting can even be put down drains to keep the septic system clean and healthy. This week Cable Bay produced jars of delicious runny honey from their two beehives that will grace the sauces, dressings and sweet treats in the restaurants. Additionally, the gardens are home to a flock of hens that lay fresh eggs daily.
The gardens have become a beloved feature of the venue with tours offered in combination with wine tasting and dining experiences. “It’s a wonderful option for visitors who want a little something extra from their vineyard experience,” says Nicky. “We have so many avid gardeners keen to find out how we produce our super-soil from food waste too!” Head chef Max agrees: “People are more and more interested in where their food comes from — they want to know if it’s ethically sourced and sustainably produced. When they visit our gardens, they can literally see how an ingredient comes from the garden to the plate and then reap the rewards of this freshness in the flavours of their meal.”
Cable Bay welcomes the recent announcement regarding approved council funding to set up large scale bokashi composting at five Waiheke Island vineyards. Having had the system in place for nearly three years, they are great advocates of bokashi as a way to control food waste.