Always click on the pie (Pie: Simon Day; Photo: Tina Tiller)

Raise your glasses to The Spinoff Food!

We’re jolly excited to announce the launch of The Spinoff’s newest section, dedicated to all things food and drink. Its editor, Alice Neville, explains what it’s all about. 

Do you like eating? Do you like drinking? If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, chances are you’ll like The Spinoff’s new section.

If you answered “no” to either, you might not be a fan. But it’s likely you’ll also be dead — because the thing about eating and drinking is that we actually need to do it to survive.

Yes, you may well have known that already, but I reckon it’s worth emphasising. Because that’s the beauty of a food and drink section. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “foodie”, there will be something in there for you. I promise.

Have a penchant for pies, pani popo, pinot or pasta? We’ve got you covered. More into bibimbap, Burger Rings or boeuf bourguignon? Sorted. Got a hankering for hāngī, hefeweizen or halloumi? Great, we’re on it. (Hell, we might even do stories about foods and beverages that start with other letters too.)

Because the thing is, our relationship with food and drink is one of the most important we have. Food reflects who we are and how we live.

For that reason, we’ll bring you smart, engaging stories about issues affecting our growers, producers, chefs and hospitality professionals up and down Aotearoa. Yes, we will be covering serious stuff, but we won’t take ourselves, or the section, too seriously.

Because at the end of the day, food is fun and quite often funny. 🍆. Lol.

Of course, any food section worth its salt should also be informative and helpful, so we’ll have recipes and reviews too, plus profiles of interesting characters.

We’ll be mining the talent of New Zealand’s best food and drink contributors, including The Spinoff’s crack team of writers, many of whom have contributed fine pieces of food journalism to the site well before there was a specific home for it. Who could forget Hayden Donnell’s Kiwi onion dip magnum opus, Madeleine Chapman’s KFC vs The Grove narrative, or Toby Manhire’s review of the boner-inducing (not his, don’t worry) vegan burger.

Here’s to seeing much more of that ilk. Which brings me to the folk who are making it all possible, our sponsors — Freedom Farms, purveyors of the finest cruelty-free meat and eggs in the land, and Fine Wine Delivery Company, home not only to fine wine but an impressive line-up of craft beer and spirits to boot.

Look out for our monthly podcast, Dietary Requirements, which will feature an ever-rotating cast of New Zealand food and drink folk in conversation with The Spinoff’s partnerships editor Simon Day, hospo entrepreneur Sophie Gilmour and yours truly, while we simultaneously stuff our faces.

Who the heck am I, you may be wondering. Well, I’m a journalist who’s written about all sorts of things over the years, but I always seem to come back to food and drink. I’m no expert, I just like writing about things I like, and I like eating and drinking (and cooking, yes, though I’m very much an amateur on that front).

Until a few months ago, I was deputy editor of Cuisine magazine, where I wrote about topics as diverse as sustainable seafood, mental health issues, how food can bring cultures together, sour beer and emojis, as well as covering new openings, writing restaurant reviews and editing a hell of a lot of recipes.

What else would you like to know about me? My favourite food is cheese and my favourite drink is a nice hoppy pale ale. My earliest food memory is my sister feeding me melted chocolate ice cream while calling me Ducky (no idea what that was about, sorry). If I was a vegetable, I’d be a radish.

In a vain attempt to flesh out this piece so it might approach the gravitas (and sheer length) of the launches of sections such as Business, Ātea and Auckland, I invited my new colleagues to submit questions of their own for me to answer.

From Leonie Hayden:
What’s your least favourite foodie term? 
Probably “foodie” itself. It used to be pretentious to call yourself a foodie, and now it’s pretentious to say you dislike the term foodie, but I’ve had this aversion drilled into me over the years, soz.

From Jihee Junn:
If you hosted a Come Dine With Me dinner party, what would you serve for your three courses?
Probably slices of my homemade sourdough with heaps of salted butter, then some form of cheese-heavy pasta, then to balance it I guess I better go for a really light, healthy dessert like an enormous chocolate pudding. #cleaneating

From Henry Oliver:
What have you tried to like but you can’t?
I suppose this is a good place to mention my inability to eat meat. Yes, a food writer who doesn’t eat meat. Sorry. I tried, I really did, but it’s just not for me. I do eat seafood though, and I can’t think of any (non-meat) food I don’t eat, so that’s got to count for something, right?

From Don Rowe:
What’s your position on the bay leaf? Kitchen staple or total ruse?
Ooh. Don going straight to the big questions. I am going to be lame and be a fence-sitter. I tend to think they’re not absolutely essential, but if you happen to have a bush of them within close proximity you may as well chuck a couple in. The dried ones are a waste of time. I asked a fancier food-writer friend her thoughts, and she is pro. Reckons they impart a unique deep, earthy fragrance.

From Cass Makoni:
Do instant noodles actually have no nutritional value?
Fuck knows. Probably not a hell of a lot, but if they make you feel happy, then eat them. Though apparently they’re riddled with palm oil.

From Lydia Burgham:
Tips for cooking for one?
Just cook enough for four to six and eat it all.

Want to contribute to The Spinoff Food or suggest a story idea? You can email me at aliceneville@thespinoff.co.nz

The Spinoff’s food section is made possible by Freedom Farms and Fine Wine Delivery Company

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