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Good From Scratch: Michael Van de Elzen’s cookery school teaches the delights of the farm-to-fork philosophy

Photograph by Babiche Martens.

Good From Scratch: Michael Van de Elzen’s cookery school teaches the delights of the farm-to-fork philosophy

Good From Scratch: Michael Van de Elzen’s cookery school teaches the delights of the farm-to-fork philosophy

While running the restaurant at Dunbrody Country House Hotel in Ireland, Michael Van de Elzen and his future wife Belinda were inspired by the hotel’s onsite cookery school. Around 20 years after that seed was planted, the couple opened their own cookery school on their Muriwai block. Good From Scratch Cookery School offers classes with a ‘farm-to-fork’ philosophy, which see participants gather produce from the gardens and combine them with in-season ingredients from neighbouring farms to create delicious and wholesome dishes. Mike, one of New Zealand’s most beloved chefs, talks to MiNDFOOD about Good From Scratch and offers some tips for home cooking.

The inspiration for the cookery school came more than 20 years ago – what made you finally decide to establish the school?

The process really started when we decided to buy the farm, as up until then we had lived in the city. We really wanted to create a fresh, purpose-built space for the school, and purchasing some land gave us the freedom to create exactly what we wanted and what we felt guests would resonate with.

What is your favourite part of taking the classes?

Chatting to everyone! I love hearing everyone’s stories, and their journeys with food, what they like and dislike, and hearing about their experience. There is something super special about sharing the produce from our garden, helping people to make delicious dishes and then sitting down to eat together.

What feedback have you received since the school opened?

We’ve been blown away by the feedback we’ve had so far – people are really enjoying the farm-to-table process, and lots of people have commented that they love getting out of the city to rural West Auckland – they feel a world away!


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Do you have any new classes in the pipeline?

We’re excited to be launching a special class all about mushrooms for the Elemental AKL festival! 

How can people start to adopt a ‘farm-to-fork’ philosophy at home?

Start small! Often people feel like this is quite an overwhelming concept, especially if they don’t have a lot of space or live in an apartment. I encourage anyone to start with fresh herbs that can be grown on a balcony or windowsill – think mint, basil, coriander or thyme. Fresh herbs take dishes and drinks to a whole new level, and there is something very satisfying about creating a dish that includes an element you grew yourself.

If you could only give out one piece of cooking advice, what would it be?

Clean as you go! Honestly, it saves so much time in the long run.

What’s one kitchen item that you can’t live without?

A good knife would be my top utensil, Dijon mustard would be my top pantry item.

What else would you like people to know about Good From Scratch Cookery School?

We also offer gift vouchers which make a great gift for those foodie friends, people who are hard to buy for or for special occasions.
376 Taiapa Road, Muriwai

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