Introducing Nik and Jess – Wild Food Foragers, Local Wild Food Challenge Winners & Judges!

Nik and Jess Mavromatis were the Grand Prize winners at last year’s North Canterbury Challenge Local Wild Food Challenge and this year we are delighted that they will be on the judges panel.

We wanted to learn a little more about Nik and Jess:


  • Tell us about how you became interested in wild food?

After relocating to North Canterbury, from the city we were both interested in expanding our knowledge of wild food. We found that living in the city we went foraging only for porcini mushrooms, but in North Canterbury there was such an amazing plethora of edible ingredients to be found. Finding people to point you in the right direction definitely helps, but then after one or two seasons of becoming aware of your surroundings you sort of instinctively know what to look for.

  • Tell us more about your winning dish last year – where did you find your wild ingredients and did you have a plan for your dish in advance or did the ingredients you found form the dish?

It really was a case of ” Lets just go for a bit of a wander and see whats around”. Its no secret that Nik loves fresh pasta. Its no secret that Jess likes to make things pretty. Jess went to the coast for a walk and came back with some Kawakawa – and dried it in the dehydrator. We have a thing for wild greens and try to use them in our day to day cooking so we wanted to include them as an ingredient somehow, so it seemed obvious that we would make fresh pasta that incorporated some of the other delicious things we found into the dish – fresh sheeps milk cheese from up the road a bit, our favorite roadside pear tree up in the Weka Pass, borage, wood sorrel, dandelion leaves and wild thyme. We were both pretty happy with the way the dish turned out.



  • What wild ingredients have you foraged/hunted/fished recently ….any wild creations cooked up?

This past year has been a bit of a challenge for us foraging. North Canterbury has had its third year of drought, we definitely didn’t have much Autumn rain, so not much happened on the Porcini front! But at the same time filled our freezer with a bounty of wild plums and made jars and jars of bottled pears and apricots. We are trying to be better shots so there can be a little more wild protein on the menu. At the end of the day , there is always watercress and plenty of wild greens and Prickly Pears.

  • This year you will be at the challenge as judges rather than competitors – what will be your judging criteria?

We are going in with an open mind, and brave palates. Don’t be afraid to push the boat out either.

  • What wild ingredients are you expecting to see?

We hope to see plenty of kaimoana and wild greens being used.

  • What are your top tips for those entering the challenge?

Make it pretty! Have lots of fun and don’t stress out because its only food and we pretty much eat anything. We are really looking forward to the day!


If you would like to join us at the North Canterbury Local Wild Food Challenge in Amberley then you can register online or on the day (if you register online it will be a bit quicker on the day as we will already have your details!)

All entries are anonymous to our judging panel. No Pressure. Equipment to finish off and hold dishes are provided. Amazing PRIZE PACKAGES up for grabs, donated by generous community focused businesses and individuals.

$20 for spectators

IRON RIDGE QUARRY 707 Rampaddock Road, Waipara Valley, Amberley

Rainbow Trout Fishing- Lake Tarawera

Lake Tarawera is right in the heart of the thermal Rotorua district and the largest of a series of lakes which surround the volcano, Mount Tarawera, which is responsible for New Zealand’s’ largest historic eruptions.

Here’s Grace doing team ‘Local Wild Food Challenge’ proud with her Rainbow Trout catch. Smoked and enjoyed by all…delicious!