Culinary Adventures, Events
Comments 4

The Cult of Foodies


On Monday I went to Late at The Museum. It is the first in the series for this year and this month’s edition was The Cult of Food in conjunction with Auckland Restaurant Month.

Located in Auckland Museum’s events centre on top of the museum, the space has 360° night views of the city and harbour. The night was hosted by Aucklander Jesse Mulligan who you might know from TV or radio or Metro magazine or his food blog which is generically cleverly named the Auckland Food Blog. Providing both comic relief and a relaxed tone for his guests and panelists: Professors Rod Jackson and Grant Schofield provided insightful academic banter while celebrity chefs Al Brown and Anne Thorp provided the foodie perspective.


The panelists nominated 4 dishes to be voted on for New Zealand’s national dish. Each panelist gave their reasoning for their nomination.

Nominations for New Zealand’s national dish:

  • Al Brown: Fritters
  • Grant Schofield: Lamb roast
  • Anne Thorp: Fish and spuds
  • Rod Jackson: Chicken and bread

I found Rod Jackson’s reasoning very interesting. Of the meat and carbs available to us today (and every other day), New Zealanders are mostly eating chicken and bread. Unfortunately, ubiquity doesn’t equate national or iconic. For something to be iconic, it needs to represent our values as a nation. It needs to be what we think of when we think of the national dish.

Therefore, Grant Schofield’s nominated Lamb Roast won. We might only eat a lamb roast half a dozen times a year, but that is where our values are.


Boy was I hungry! Speaking to a sold out event, it was clear that Aucklanders are passionate about food. As the event was ran 6pm until 9.30pm, we were hungry for dinner and ready to order from the menu posted online. Unfortunately, the event was severely under-catered. Twitter was alive with hashtags like #Hangry and #WhereIsMyDinner and some left at half time break in search of dinner. It was torture having to endure the food talk on a growling stomach but I persevered.



After the break, Megan May from Little Bird Unbakery showed us how to make 2 raw food dishes that we got to sample. It was interesting, entertaining and delicious. Just enough to tie me over until I ate dinner afterwards. I liked Megan’s approach to raw food and how anyone could introduce a little raw food into their diet. It is not a strict all or nothing diet, do what feels good to you.


An enjoyable evening and a great way to spend $20. I hope they do more food related events at The Museum!

Tips for Late at The Museum:

  • There is no value in being extra early, on time is fine
  • Get in the food line early
  • …or bring snacks “just in case”
  • …or eat before the event
  • There are 2 sets of elevators on the far side that no one seems to know about

Other interesting tidbits:

  • Bluff oysters are the darling of New Zealand foodies.
  • The number one selling item in New Zealand supermarkets is Coca Cola 1.5L.
  • In the ’60s chicken was exotic and served only at Christmas. Lamb and beef were our everyday meats. Today lamb is a special occasion meat and chicken is most common.
  • Margarine once required a doctor’s prescription.
  • New Zealanders are getting fatter but very slowly and we are eating better food.
  • All the panelists seemed to agree that as a nation, we were eating too much bread. It was also agreed that whole foods were important and processed foods should be avoided where possible.
  • The verdict on butter was undecided.

For information on Auckland Restaurant Month, visit the event website here:

For more information on the Auckland Museum, visit their website here:



  1. Fantastic synopsis Genie, thank you! I’ll have to keep this event in mind if we ever venture as far away as New Zealand.

  2. What a great event! Also so interesting to hear what the panelists thought the national dishes should be. I know that the titles alone should be self explanatory, but what are in the fritters? I think “fritter” is one of those things that everyone agrees is fried, but means something very different depending on the country. For us, a fritter is kind of like a hush puppy with corn, or sweet like an apple fritter which is sort of like a donut with no hole in the center. Is a lamb roast like a British Sunday roast? Is fish and spuds like fish and chips? Is chicken and bread a sandwich? Sorry for all the questions, Genie, but I’m so curious!

    • Excellent questions too! I will do my best to answer. A fritter can be chopped mussel, paua (abalone) or sweet corn and is bound with a little egg and flour plus seasonings and pan fried on both sides. The smaller the better so that you can dip in a sauce or chutney and pop the whole thing in your mouth.
      Lamb roast is very much a British Sunday roast.
      Fish and spuds is fish and chips only Anne Thorp didn’t want to say specifically fish and chips due to the deep fried nature of it.
      Chicken and bread could be a chicken sandwich.
      Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if chicken and bread was very common in the US too. Though you would never consider them your national dish!

  3. I swear one of the best things a heard that night was “we are getting fatter..but from eating great food” it was absolutely priceless!
    As we talked about I did manage to get some food, even though I had some “very anxious:” “very annoying” old ladies in front of me in the queue (sorry girls but pushing people to get first to the elevator is not my style)

    I will take you advise and make my own mussel fritter next time.. Our growing Edge anyone?

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