We’re firm believers that a fabulous wedding should always include fabulous food, and we partner with amazing chefs who create the ultimate dining experience for couples and their guests at Treseren small weddings. Chef Fiona NZ has created countless ‘wow’ fine dining moments at Treseren, from sushi canapés to exquisite seven course tasting menus. We hosted a Q and A with Fiona to get to know a little bit more about her and what she does.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming a chef? What inspired your love of cooking and where did you start out in your career?
I have cooked since I was very young. My mother always thought she was a good cook, but growing up, I wasn’t always so convinced. I think part of my love of cooking came from my desire to eat well, which did not always happen. In hindsight, that only really started to happen when I fed myself… The process of taking fantastic raw ingredients, then transforming them into something delicious, has felt like such a natural process for me. I started my cooking career in a greasy spoon cafe in Napier, New Zealand to earn some money before going to university. It was hard work and not enjoyable at all. But I must have been half decent as I kept getting shifts. I remember I never stopped, constantly finding something to do, even if it was quiet, but I was very shy so staying behind the scenes suited me at the time. After 3 years at university, I dropped out and decided to go to college to train to be a chef, down in Christchurch. I was the first student to get 100% in my culinary diploma all those years ago and soon found myself working as a commis chef at the 5 star Park Royal hotel in the Canterbury Tales Restaurant. Sadly no more since the earthquakes but at the time, it was one of the best restaurants in the country. The standards were incredibly high and gave me a great foundation.
How would you describe your food style?
I am very produce and season driven with my cooking style. My approach is all about freshness and flavours. I like to include elements of inspiration from my travels with a focus on Interesting yet delicious flavours. I also use ingredients I have foraged or grown myself which add intense flavour notes. Everything I put on the plate has a purpose and is an integral part of the dish.
What are your most popular dishes?
Well…Beef wellington is incredibly popular. I never expected to be cooking beef wellington so often, but it’s a firm favourite with clients. Other popular choices include Local Scallops with Miso, Apple, Lime and Hazelnut Butter; Hot and Sour Newlyn Crab Salad; Dessert Trios of various types are very popular too, especially with one of my ice lollies!
We love your canapes and sushi! They always look beautiful, and taste incredible. What are your favourite canapes to make for a wedding day?
Sate Lillit Ayam (Balinese aromatic chicken skewers to you and I) with my Chilli Jam, which always reminds me of a trip to Bali a few years ago, where I learnt to make it the traditional way. I like to make things that look pretty, so sushi is a naturally good fit. I also love making dumplings and summer rolls. I think that asian inspired food is perfect for tasty little canape mouthfuls.
How would you describe the food you create at Treseren on a wedding day?
I offer the same style of food that I cook for my private dining bookings. I made the decision that I did not want to cook for large events. The smaller numbers mean I can give the food more attention to detail; the highest quality can always be achieved. Mass catering is not for me. There are plenty of other chefs offering that. I don’t enjoy that style of cooking and I certainly do not enjoy eating it. My couples at Treseren are generally foodies and they want the food to be one of the main focuses of the day. It’s so rewarding being able to cook each specially designed menu for my couples.
Can you talk us through the process of how things work if a Treseren couple approaches you for creating their wedding meal?
I send through details and sample menus that I may have cooked for precious bookings, then arrange a call to discuss the menu development. If the couple are keen to proceed, I take a £50 holding deposit to secure the date, before I start writing any menus. Once received I then make suggestions based on the couple’s own preferences and then take it from there. Sometimes things come together quickly, other times they require a bit more work. But it is essential to get the details right and to ensure the couple is 100% happy with the menu I have created with them.
Do you ever create bespoke dishes for couples?
Yes, quite often. In fact, all the time. It’s a very exciting part of my job that I enjoy greatly. I do not work from say Menu A, Menu B. Everything I do is bespoke, even though I do get quite a few requests for beef wellington.
You kindly cooked for my 50th Birthday here at Treseren and there were so many highlights in the tasting menu. It was so hard to pick a dessert, so I opted for a trio of desserts! Do you find this is popular?
Dessert trios are very popular indeed. I love doing desserts so I always have lots of different ideas. My desserts often have quite a few elements so a dessert trio gives couples the opportunity to include a few of their favourite sweets on one plate. It’s a wonderful final flourish for the end of the meal. And honestly it was such a delight to cook for your birthday.
Can you share any memorable Treseren moments?
Well there have been many, but I remember the first wedding I did, when we were coming out of the first lockdown. I remember making up some extra dishes for Emma and Paul to sample and discussing them etc. This was very much the start of my relationship with Treseren and it was such a great experience. I knew then that we were a part of something truly special.