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Ben Bayly steps out of the kitchen on another TV quest

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Chef Ben Bayly is heading back to our screens with a second season of A New Zealand Food Story, as the acclaimed Auckland chef once again travels the country, unearthing fascinating stories behind some of New Zealand’s finest produce.

The first season of A New Zealand Food Story was filmed as Bayly sought inspiration for the menu at his then-new venture, New Zealand cuisine restaurant, Ahi. After years of cooking French and Italian cuisine, Bayly wondered why he wasn’t creating New Zealand food - and asked what was New Zealand food anyway?

The first New Zealand Food Story attempted to answer that question and see what that cuisine might look like on a restaurant menu. The show picked up some international acclaim, screening on National Geographic Asia and Middle East with over 600 million subscribers.

This time around, A New Zealand Food Story 2, screening now on TVNZ 1, DUKE and TVNZ OnDemand sees Bayly meeting more of the people behind all the delicious dishes at the now 18-month-old, award winning restaurant.

Bayly’s passion for New Zealand’s produce is showcased throughout the new eight-episode series, as he gets out of the kitchen and heroes the country’s farms, orchards, waters, markets, and artisan food suppliers. As he meets the growers and suppliers who are developing the New Zealand food scene into a world class industry, he also seeks new and exciting ideas for his menu.

The areas he covers are as far-flung as berry picking in the far North to mussel gathering in an area so remote, it’s only accessible by helicopter. Amongst other things, Bayly learns why spearfishing is the most sustainable way to havest kai moana from one of New Zealand’s best - Tim Barnett.

Other episodes demonstrate the diversity of New Zealand’s homegrown produce, from a truffle orchard in Te Puke to macadamia nut groves in Katikati then onto a plantation in the far North with the most delicious pineapples he has ever tasted.

Bayly also finds inspiration in learning Māori cooking, ingredients and harvesting techniques from Ex All Black and Wanganui policeman Glen "Oz" Osborne and learns more about urban foraging native plants, weeds, and fungi around Auckland.

Bayly says he’s enjoyed stepping away from the kitchen again to discover more about New Zealand’s food and believes New Zealand is in the early stages of a journey where the country is going to be world famous for its produce.

"Ahi’s been open for 18 months now and I’m super proud of what we’ve achieved, but this series is about moving on to discover what’s next for our diverse and developing food scene in New Zealand,

"I believe we are on the cusp of greatness; the world’s eyes are starting to turn to New Zealand cuisine. Our food culture is developing and growing, I get to work with and celebrate the food heroes who grow and harvest our produce.

"We must unearth more things in this country. I know they’re out there; I know there are some amazing suppliers. How can I be the best I can be if I don’t go visit these people, if I don’t go and learn from them and understand them, understand the ingredients?

"You can’t find the answers to those questions in the restaurant, on the hotline, sweating your bollocks off plating food every night. You have to get out there. So that’s exactly what we do with this second series."

The second season of A New Zealand Food Story is out now and is an eight-part series produced by Mahi Tahi, with executive producer Peter Tainui. It screens Saturdays at 4.30pm on TVNZ 1 with replays on Sundays at 9.30pm on DUKE and is available on TVNZ OnDemand here. Season one episodes can be found on ThreeNow here.

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