Go Wild Chatham Island Freeze Dried Honey came from the mind of Kaai Silbery, chef of 20 years and Head Chef at Hotel Chathams.
Silbery wanted to showcase the honey of the Chathams, an underestimated and valuable product of the island and had the idea of freeze-drying it. This makes the honey light and crunchy with an elegant shape that chefs can incorporate into fine dishes. She then had the idea to use it on the Hotel Chathams restaurant menu and sell it in 50g bags in the gift shop.
Silbery and partner Francesca Bonventre buy the honey locally from a couple of retired university teachers, well-respected komatua of the Island who are passionate beekeepers and who manage over 100 hives for themselves and others. A contractor on the mainland processes the honey for Go Wild and then the freeze-dried product gets delivered to the Chathams and other buyers.
Chatham Island bees are free from diseases such as Varroa Mite and American Foulbrood, this makes them very special.
“This means we are possibly the last hope for New Zealand and possibly the rest of the world in the fight against the diseases that are killing beehives,” noted Bonventre. “We are now in the process of buying some land on the Chatham Islands where we have already placed our first beehives.”
A lot of the land on the island has been cleared for pasture, the Go Wild portion of land is one that is still rich in vegetation and endemic plants that the bees can feed on.
“We hope to be an example for others on the island to value the native land and see the possibility for a business that isn’t damaging to the ecosystem. Just leaving things as they are, managing beehives and letting mother nature do its course.”
Silbery and Bonventre would like to establish a laboratory where they can extract the honey from their own bees while also welcoming visitors and tourists to watch the process.
“We would love to do honey tours, walking through the hives, admiring the beautiful landscape, and telling the story about how the bees come to the Chathams 200 years ago and how they survived till now, and of course we will talk about our innovative product, Go Wild Chatham Islands Freeze Dried Honey.”
Go Wild’s priority has and always will be to build strong relationships with the community, to have landowners involved in the production of the honey, guaranteeing funding for the younger generations to be trained in beekeeping and business.
Go Wild Chatham Islands Freeze Dried Honey is a regional product that carries the story of the Chatham Islands in itself, an island where chefs and tourists can source quality food and find innovative ideas.