With visitors to the town spoilt for choice when it comes to dining, it’s hard to know where to start.
Thankfully, Corey Hume has shared his top picks for foodies visiting the region. As executive chef at True South Dining Room, part of the The Rees Hotel in Queenstown, Hume knows a thing or two about food – so check out his recommendations and take note for your next visit to Queenstown!
Corey’s favourite seasonal Queenstown produce and suppliers
Stonefruit from Roxburgh, apples and cherries from Cromwell, asparagus in spring and Jerusalem artichokes in winter from Julie at Nevis Gardens in Gibbston Valley. Julie is a passionate gardener, and her vegetables taste amazing. They remind me of the vegetables my family grew when I was a kid. You can taste the difference compared to the mass-produced commercial varieties. Rocket from the local grower, Tony; he also has the most amazing snow peas and cornflowers.
Cardrona Distillery makes the most awesome spirits, and I use their premium Source Gin to cure salmon and its roe which I source from Mt Cook, and their limited edition Bourbon which pairs beautifully with the banana Tarte Tatin with Valrhona Jivara and Lime ice cream. The truffles in New Zealand are also fantastic from certain trufferies in the South Island. Bluff oysters when in season are fantastic as is the Fiordland live lobster. Our honey we harvest here from the hotel is great too.
There are many wonderful cheesemakers throughout New Zealand who are too numerous to mention. Cheese in New Zealand has come a long way. A favourite of mine is Whitestone’s Windsor Blue – the penicillin is based on a Roquefort culture, but locally developed. One new ground-breaking ingredient, Pamu deer milk from Gore, in the South Island, is a world first product which I’m using on my dessert menu currently.
Favourite Queenstown restaurants
La Rumbla in Arrowtown is great for dinner and super consistent for local tapas-style dishes, and run by a well-travelled Kiwi couple. The service is always warm and welcoming, and the food has always been tasty. The other, and it’s a local favourite for breakfast/lunch, is Bespoke Kitchen, on the hill that leads up to the gondola. It’s a typical kiwi cafe that is uniquely us in that way. Casual and cool.
Picks for local herbs
We grow bay leaves, thyme and rosemary at the hotel. I’m eager to expand what we do, especially into edible flowers and other herbs. I use our thyme we grow, which grows wild throughout Otago, a lot in my dishes as well as the fresh bay leaf. For me, they’re two of my staple herbs. I try to source as many local herbs and vegetables as I can. There is a local herb grower, Basil, Parsley & Partners who are growing things like purple perilla which I use when in season.
Favourite South Island staple dish
Bluff oysters are fantastic. They’re very different than the more common pacific rock oyster – slightly sweet, juicy and full of umami.
Best dishes at True South Dining Room
The Fiordland crayfish are really good. I have that on the menu based on market availability and we can also fly guests over to the west coast to have them hand-dived and cooked that evening for their dinner!
My other favourite product to use is lamb from a farmer called Bill Leeland. He’s an ex-All Black and a very smart farmer. His lamb under the label Leeland’s is amazing and is grown down in the Catlins.
And last but far from least, our new signature dessert series which highlights nature. It’s hyper-realistic fruit, which we call our fruit series. It’s based on seasonal fruit from the area at different times of the year.
Corey Hume’s Kawakawa Salsa Verde recipe
I’ve just developed this canape called a squid salami using NZ Arrowhead squid. The Kawakawa Salsa Verde that goes with this is really what helps elevate the profile of how I’ve put the squid together. It uses a native NZ plant called Kawakawa. I love to use this. It’s on my current menu as one of the snacks. I grew up in Christchurch, and while sitting on the hill in Scarborough, you could see the squid boats at night working just off the east coast.
Kawakawa can be substituted in Australia for a bunch of basil with a little pepper leaf.
1 packet Basil, leaves only, chopped
2 packet Italian Parsley, chopped
2 packet Chervil, chopped
50gm Baby capers, rinsed
2 Lemons, juice only
50gm Kawakawa puree (from making oil)
50gm Kawakawa oil
100gm Grapeseed oil
Place into the mortar and pestle, grinding until a nice paste is achieved, finishing with the lemon juice. Adjust with salt if needed.