I started Savour shortly after moving to New Zealand in 2011. We began as a Wellington-based Meetup group to bring like-minded foodies together over cooking workshops, wine tastings, culinary travel and more.
We’ve collaborated with Hippopatamus restaurant at the Museum (now QT) Hotel on a “Dine with Monet” Wellington-on-a-plate event where the chefs recreated recipes from Claude Monet’s life in Giverny; in 2018, Sofitel joined Savour to bring to life the era of the Parisian Belle Epoque with an evening of fine dining, cabaret music and culinary history. More recently, the fabulous culinary gastronomad and Kiwi icon, Peta Mathias, joined us for a series of cooking workshops at Te Papa Museum to celebrate love and food stories from her book "Eat Your Heart Out" and will return in October 2021 to launch her new book, 'Shed Couture', with an afternoon of food, fashion and fun!
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Bon appétit! Wendy
From a young age, I associated good food with adventure. My American parents thought it would be exciting to move the family to a new town (or country) every two years. One of my first memories is of my mom driving us through the tropical jungle in Puerto Rico to buy bananas from her local friend. From the tropics we moved to Canada where, instead of beaches, we now spent our time ice skating on the frozen lake next to our house and thawed out after with warm rhubarb crumble by the fire. In each new home, my parents created a vegetable garden, not a common practice in most parts of America (still today, alas).
My dad hunted the deer around our property, took us fishing, and now regularly visits my sister in Alaska where they live off the land, foraging, hunting caribou, moose, and wild sheep (and the occasional bear that tries to get into their off-grid cabin!; their Inuit neighbours make Thanksgiving pie crusts using rendered grizzly fat) and fish for wild salmon and halibut.
When I was a teenager, my family finally settled in Pennsylvania where our Persian neighbours became close friends. Their family feasts ignited a life-long passion within me for Persian and Middle Eastern food, tables laden with colourful, fragrant dishes to share. I love recreating similar feasts here in NZ for friends and everyone who comes to my cooking classes!
At age 19, I moved to Switzerland and then France where I fell in love. With the people, the culture, the language—and crucially, the food (though I did end up marrying and divorcing a Frenchman!). I became so enamoured with France that, once I spoke French fluently, had a French passport and a French husband, I thought I should get a PhD in French literature and art history too! When I look back, I realise that food and French rituals around it were huge influences on me. Crunchy sea salt butter cut off a huge yellow slab at the Saint Malo open air market on the Brittany coast, belon oysters shucked by oystermen on the water in Normandy, and (when I'd saved up for months) 8-course degustations in Michelin-star restaurants.
Living in New Zealand is a new exciting chapter, even though I've been here with my two teenagers, Max and Lucia, for 10 years now. Shortly after settling in Wellington, I decided to go back to study and retrain as a chef at Weltec. After working in a few top Wellington restaurants, I started teaching cooking workshops around Wellington. Since 2013, the business has grown and become Savour Cooking School. Over the years, I've had the privilege to work with some of the best chefs in the country and run workshops on fermentation, sourdough, wild food and more!
I've always loved gardening and growing my own vegetables, herbs and flowers, many of which I bring along to use in cooking classes. In 2019, to increase our growing area, we turned our grass yard at home into a huge organic vegetable patch! Currently we're sowing in lupin to improve the soil and getting the beds ready for Spring while still harvesting last season's silverbeet, kale, carrots, spring onions, lots of herbs, lettuce, rocket and more. All our vegees are picked right before each cooking class, assuring absolute freshness!
I'm also a big fan of fermenting and using stuff up. We serve homemade berry/hibiscus kombucha, jun and other fruit soda experiments in most of our cooking classes. Offering non-alcoholic drink options that are tasty, sophisticated and interesting is an area that I'd love to continue to develop.
"Wendy’s cooking classes are a heady mix of non- threatening, fun recipes using easily accessible fresh ingredients, delightfully grounded, friendly professional chefs as presenters and sprinkled with little nuggets of fascinating culinary facts and useful tips which you can take away for use in your own at home cooking. All this in a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere culminating in a shared meal with other like- minded souls and accompanied by a glass of something chilled and delicious. Bon Appetit! Warning: These classes can be addictive!"