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Escape! Festival

Tutored by “old-school” Maori chef Joe McLeod, who has worked at many international restaurants including the Ritz in Paris, Monique Fiso has been learning how to eat her way through the New Zealand bush.

The dynamic young Kiwi chef with Michelin-star experience has been shown the traditional uses of plants, how to follow the Maori lunar calendar and leafy alternatives to tinfoil and Glad Wrap.

And on Saturday, June 2, audiences at Tauranga’s Escape! festival have to two chances to share some of Fiso’s journey.

As well as talking to Allyson Gofton about her food philosophy, researching pre-European Maori food and her ambition to “kick Maori food up 10 notches”, Fiso will also lead a bush walk identifying food plants and discussing how they could be used.

Fiso has had to learn protocols around collecting plants but says every mistake is a teacher. “I’d picked harakeke [flax] in the rain and was told, gently but firmly, that harakeke can only be picked in the rain if it’s for a tangi. Every mistake has resulted in me learning more.”

She established her Hiakai business in 2016 and has done pop-up events around the country, last year winning the Innovation in Maori Development title at the New Zealand Innovation Awards.

Among other guests at Escape! are political writer Max Harris, cartoonist Tom Scott, comedian Michele A’Court, novelists Laurence Fearnley and Paula Morris, doctor-poet Glenn Colquhoun, founder of the Te Araroa Walkway of New Zealand Geoff Chapple, financial journalist Bernard Hickey. and Middlemore Hospital intensive care specialist Dr David Galler.

Food writer Allyson Gofton will host a French-theme morning tea on Monday, June 4, while Laurence Fearnley, Tom Scott and Michele A’Court will also take workshops, and Anya Tate-Manning will perform her award-winning one-woman show, My Best Dead Friend.

There will also a healthy contingent of locals on stage, including Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller, community activist Mary Dillon, poet and businessman Harold Jones, singer Marion Arts and physicist Dr Simon Taylor.

See the full Escape! Programme at www.taurangafestival.co.nz


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