Edmond Weicherding is the executive chef for InterContinental Wellington's Chameleon Restaurant. Edmond Weicherding learned about fresh food and fruit tarts from his European grandmother and brought the secrets to Wellington.
Where else do you learn to cook but at your grandma's bench, with her in a floury apron and you standing on a chair making a terrible mess and a plum tart? Weicherding, 42, is the executive chef for InterContinental Wellington's Chameleon Restaurant and is trying out a menu in which all the ingredients - like his grandparents' produce - are sustainable and organic, from cooking oil to wine.
Weicherding's grandmother, who died recently at 95, lived to see his career thrive as she always knew it would after he was apprenticed at 15.


His first job was in a small restaurant close to home where the proprietor kept koura-like crayfish in a pond and Weicherding's job was to fish them out live and present them to the customers.
On the way to working in more important eateries, he cooked in a small French restaurant "where the apprentices used to get the odd smack around the head, which was quite acceptable, to be honest. The special menu he devised for the restaurant this month uses mostly local organic produce. Starter ingredients include feta cheese made in-house from organic milk and hot, smoked Aoraki salmon, which is not wild, "but not fed to make it as pink as some salmon, which is a good thing". There's nothing quite as exotic and labour-intense as some of the dishes his grandmother used to make.


At Kensington Place, in Kensington Church St, he met his New Zealander wife and likes to say she took him home as a souvenir. There is more public demand for such food, he believes, but a misconception exists that it can be found only in "cafe-like" places and not in a five-star hotel.




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