CONSERVATION CONVERSATION: THE CHEF AND THE FARMER

In a conversation between up-and-coming British chef, Jack Cashmore, and Dan Steele, a farmer, conservationist and the founder of Blue Duck Station, the two explored New Zealand’s conservation potential.

“New Zealand could be the biggest conservation project on Earth,” Steele motioned. “For me, the big picture is that New Zealand could lead the world in producing quality products which world-class chefs, like Jack Cashmore, want to use in the best restaurants in the world. We can also lead in the realm of biodiversity management and conservation.”

New Zealand indeed boasts a ‘clean and green’ image to overseas visitors, but walking the walk is essential, especially as modern dining trends lean into sustainability and provenance. “It’s a big ask to get the primary industries on-board to work closely together, but if we can pull it off and be recognised as the biggest conservation project on Earth at the same time as continuing to farm, then every product in New Zealand will become more valuable.”

Between Cashmore and Steele, they want to put their green shoes forward and create a conservation and sustainability-focused fine-dining experience through The Chef’s Table at Blue Duck Station. The goal for the pop-up restaurant at Steele’s Blue Duck Station is that it becomes the best destination for overnighting and fine-dining in New Zealand, and emanates a sustainable philosophy.

“For me to be able to plant and organically grow as much as I want and take the restaurant back to the very basics of what you can classify as a ‘restaurant’—a warm, inviting place where people gather to enjoy the fruits of the earth—that’s a soulful experience,” said Cashmore. “This is more than making money or making a splash in the restaurant scene. This is about living what we say we believe and leading a vision to create a self-sufficient restaurant based on ethical production and run in a sustainable way, where your way of life and beautiful food become intertwined.”