Peter chats about how lockdown changed his views on food, his gorgeous Wild Sustainable Banana Prawn Frittata recipe and why he's leaving Sky City.
Lockdown was a wild experience for all of us, including Peter Gordon. So much so that he's come out of it having decided to exit his 15-year long role as Signature Chef at SkyCity’s The Sugar Club to begin a new project: 'Homeland'.
‘Homeland’ is a cooking school and food embassy that aims to teach people how to cook, bring communities together, "and help sell great kai to the world," says Peter. "I believe that unless we support our amazing producers, none of our restaurants will survive, and nor will we replace the trade gap left by tourism.”
He's proud of his work with SkyCity. "I’ve mentored and taught culinary skills and techniques to many chefs and discussed the do’s and don’ts of hospitality with dozens of staff in my three restaurants over 15 years," says Peter.
“So many SkyCity whanau, from the executive team to kitchen porter, have supported my professional and personal life and I’ll always be grateful to them,” says Gordon
His focus on sustainability has also led him to showcase a quarantine friendly recipe that Kiwis can easily cook at home during winter using sustainable wild seafood: the Marine Stewardship Council Banana Prawn Frittata, in support of the Marine Stewardship Council. They're a not-for-profit organisation, to start a movement and remind people of the importance of buying sustainable seafood and make environmentally friendly purchasing decisions.
Read on to see Peters answers to our questions.
What was the first dish you cooked after lockdown ended
A whole snapper my partner caught at the end of our drive - we live on the Waitematā harbour. Pan fried whole with chillies and lemongrass from the garden, makrut lime leaves and ginger.
What are foodie experiences you missed the most during lock down?
I love to cook and find the whole creative side very satisfying in so many ways, but occasionally I wanted a night off and not all of our favourite foodie spots were doing takeaways. We had a craving for SE Asian food and thin crusted wood-fired pizzas. For breakfast and brunch I’m a fan of the frittata - and my prawn version is really good - especially with a glass of chenin blanc or bubbles!
How as a restauranteur did the lockdown affect you and your businesses?
We were closed, like most restaurants, and The Sugar Club isn’t suited to takeaways - seeing as we’re on Level 53 of the Sky Tower. My restaurant Bellota still hasn’t reopened and The Sugar Club has gone from having 7 dinner and 5 lunch services per week to just 5 dinners. We hope we can open up for lunches and more dinners but for now we’re just grateful that our dinners are busy.
Will you be changing anything post-lockdown?
My partner Al and I have created a new business called Homeland - it’s a food producer and community focussed Social enterprise that will also have a cooking school and some food and beverage attached. I was hoping I could do that alongside my restaurants at SkyCity but have come to the conclusion that I need to give Homeland 100% of my time and attention so will be leaving The Sugar Club and Bellota in the coming months.
Peter introduces his Wild Sustainable Banana Prawn Frittata, made in support of the Marine Stewardship Council and sustainable seas.
Using MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified wild sustainable banana prawns, this soul food-inspired recipe is full of healthy fats, nutrients and made with sweet potato. It’s the perfect quick brekkie or brunch for the coming winter months.
Prep time: 10min
Cooking time: 20min
70g sweet potato or kumara, skin scrubbed then cut into pieces
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil or other cooking oil
½ sweetcorn, cut the kernels from the cob
2 cloves garlic-peeled and sliced
1 heaped teaspoon ginger-chopped or julienned
4 free-range eggs
200g of MSC certified banana prawns, de-shelled and cleaned
small handful of fresh herbs like coriander or basil, parsley, dill
Pre-heat the oven to 180degree Celsius
Heat a pan, add 1 teaspoon oil and thesweet potato (kumara)and cook in a fry-pan over a medium heat. Toss with a spatula several times to cook evenly, until it’s coloured a little and almost cooked.
Add the corn kernels, garlic and ginger and cook until the corn begins to pop and colour stirringfrequently. Take the pan off the heat and add in raw prawns. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon thesweet potato (kumera)and prawn mixture into a small to medium oven-proof dish.
Break the eggs and gently mix together in a bowl, until the yolks have popped–don’t over mix.
Pour the egg mixture on top of the sweet potato and prawns and spread it out evenly. Scatter the herbs on top and place in the oven.
Cook for 10-15 min until golden on top, less time if you like it a little gooey.
To finish, season with salt and pepper and serve.
Find more delicious seafood recipes like this and where to find sustainable seafood with the blue fishtick at msc.org.
“My new project ‘Homeland’ is a cooking school and food embassy that will teach everyone how to cook, connect communities with each other, and help sell great kai to the world. I believe that unless we support our amazing producers, none of our restaurants will survive, and nor will we replace the trade gap left by tourism,” says Gordon.