Trading Tales: Cooking up a storm for fair trade

Tania is a dab hand in the kitchen. The talented time banker, trading since late 2011, recently cooked up a storm for A Fine Affair, a dinner and auction event held at the Newtown Community Centre as part of Fair Trade Fortnight.

“A Fine Affair was a way to raise funds for Oxfam, raise awareness about fair trade foods and generally have a great time enjoying food,” says Tania.

She has never trained as a chef and owes her tasty talents to her aunt, family friends and serious hours spent poring over cookbooks.

“Only really from age 16 on did I start to really make an effort with cooking. I was a vegetarian from age 10-20, and having to think creatively about eating well was an impetus to learn more about food,” she says.

Travel also tickled Tania’s taste buds.

“I moved to London as an 18 year old and was super inspired by my food experiences there and in subsequent travels: working in a Spanish restaurant, Nepalese dumplings, stuffing myself with tapas in San Sebastian, discovering the incredible range and freshness of southern Mexican cuisine. That was really formative for me.”

Tania’s talents shone through at A Fine Affair, where she put on a three course feast for 35 guests, who gathered to enjoy music and share wine, company and, of course, the excellent food. The sumptuous menu included a selection of hors d'oeuvres, rice pilaf with carrots and oranges, braised duck with figs, roast baby pumpkins, fennel and orange salad and – definitely not to be missed – a dessert of rich chocolate cake with vanilla roast pears.

Where possible, fair trade ingredients were used, including olive oil, rice, sugar and chocolate.

“It was definitely a challenge, mostly because fair trade products available in New Zealand tend to be dried goods, so we had to be realistic about how fair trade the meal could be. I think we struck a good balance between seasonal, local, fair trade and delicious… It was a grand success!”

Now Tania has some time banking credits to her name and though she hasn’t used them yet, she says “… actually I'm hoping to get some help mending some clothes, and maybe with a mid-winter clean up of my backyard.  We will see…”