Raglan looks set to become a foodie destination if local celebrity chef Jimmy Boswell has his way, and to get the ball rolling television identities Two Fat Cats are coming to town the first weekend in March for what’s being promoted as “three fun-filled days cooking at three ticketed events”.

Better known as the Corporate Dads from the TV2 series My Kitchen Rules NZ, Josh King and Aaron Gascoigne will begin by hosting a meet-and-greet evening at Rock-it Café. The next night there’ll be a finger food event on board the Wahinemoe’s sunset cruise, and finally on the Sunday — at a yet to be confirmed venue — a three-hour Masterclass for all the foodies in town.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the Child Cancer Foundation.

Jimmy got to know the popular pair last year during the MKR series, and hints he also has a few surprise adventures lined up for them to showcase the town he’s called home now for seven months, after an earlier move south from Auckland’s Karekare beach near Piha.

“I’ve had a really good look at what’s around (in Raglan),” Jimmy told the Chronicle last week while keeping cool at his airy East Street home, its deck dominated by a deluxe gas barbeque with wok and paella pan attachments, and a lush-looking passionfruit vine growing up a trellis nearby.

Jimmy’s convinced Raglan has the infrastructure to become a foodie’s delight. He also believes it has all the right ingredients for a food, wine and music festival he has in mind for February next year.

There’s a lot of product here – either grown or sourced – he says of the town’s culinary versatility. He also points out Raglan has plenty of accommodation options, commercial kitchens, cafes and chefs. He’s impressed by the likes of Sarah Kay at Rock-it and longtime Vinnies’ owner and chef turned caterer Colin Chung.

Then there’s MasterChef NZ winner Aaron Brunet, Jimmy adds, who wrote his own cookbook from recipes made and styled in the kitchen of his Upper Wainui Road home.

“Why not?” he says of fitting a food festival into Raglan’s growing arts and music calendar.
He’s been cooking up the whole foodie-cum-event plan with various locals since arriving in town from Hamilton. “I love the coast, I’m not a city person,” he explains of his move out west.

Meantime the 53-year-old cookbook author, TV presenter and blogger has other plans on the go, the first at Waitangi Weekend when he’ll be helping Raglan Area School students raise funds at a gala event at Kopua Domain.

He’ll have his own cooker/smoker on hand and the kids, he says, will make pork sliders using “Maori flavours” like the peppery-tasting leaves of horopito and kawakawa.

“I love to get behind schools,” he adds, likening the local fundraiser to English celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution events which aim to educate every child about food. Jimmy himself is also one of the New Zealand ambassadors for Jamie Oliver, he reveals.

A week on from Waitangi Weekend Jimmy will be cooking at Ruapuke Roots Garden Festival where he’ll have a pop-up foodstand called ‘Jamaican Me Hungry’, with chicken wings and traditional Caribbean rice and peas.

Just two days later he’ll be behind the scenes at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton, cooking for British-American musician and songwriter Slash – former lead guitarist of hard rock band Guns N’ Roses – who’ll be on tour in New Zealand.

Jimmy’s proud of his reputation as a real food chef, doing shows around the country as well as at the annual Waikato Home & Garden Show – started 31 years ago by Raglan resident Graham Hannah – the Waikato Food & Wine Festival, now in its sixth year, and the National Agricultural Fieldays held at Mystery Creek.

Although he expects Raglan too could evolve into a destination for food events, he doesn’t expect they’ll be quite on the same scale. Jimmy envisages something more in the range of 5000 at a local food and music weekend.

The town has all the pieces of the puzzle, from musicians and artisans to its thriving café culture, on which to build a reputation as foodie destination, he says.

Edith Symes
If you wish to check out Jimmy’s blog: