Started from Baduzzi Now we Here

Started from Baduzzi Now we Here

Critic’s ex-food columnist working in country’s best kitchen

Former Critic Te Ārohi food columnist Alice Taylor is moving from two-hatted Auckland restaurant Baduzzi to the three-hatted Amisfield in Queenstown. For those of you who don’t know, restaurants are like balding men: the more hats, the better. Three is very impressive.


Last year, we reported on the beginnings of Alice’s food journey. After finishing her Master’s in Politics dissertation, she jetted off to compete in Masterchef two days later. “I fully believe that Critic is a huge reason why I got on Masterchef and why I’m here now,” she told us, and we blushed.


Alice finished third overall and was then offered a job by judge Michael Dearth at his restaurant Baduzzi. And just recently, she received a call from another judge, Vaughan Mabee, with another offer: this time at Amisfield.


“Vaughn’s very much inspired by the produce and the environment around him,” said Alice, something that resonates with her in her cooking. “I think I follow that mentality as well,” she said. “When I cook a dessert, it’s very much led by what produce I have available to me, especially herbs. I love using herbs in dessert.” Quick tip: next time you make frankenstein pasta out of the dregs of the ingredients left in your fridge, just say you were “inspired by the produce available to you.”


Nostalgia plays a huge role in the recipes Alice creates in her spare time, moonlighting as a food columnist for North & South. For her, mulled wine carries a special kind of nostalgia for her time in Dunedin as a student. “I had a lot of mulled wine when I was at University,” she said. Her sure-fire mulled wine recipe includes any shitty leftover wine you have lying around, orange juice, some kind of spice (cinnamon is nice), and sugar left to simmer in a pot (not boil, that gets rid of the alcohol). Not only does it make shit wine taste good, it warms your cold lil breatha hands and hearts, and “you honestly get quite drunk.” Sold.


Cost-effectiveness was one of her main goals when writing the food column ‘Fuck! I Can’t Cook’ for Critic Te Ārohi in 2021. “The cost of living for anyone at the moment’s really tough, but especially as a student. It is a real strategy,” she said. “There’s real joy in cooking at home, but it’s a real challenge. And that’s why I think vegetarian options and just learning how to cook for the season is so important.” If all else fails, she recommended a hearty $4 OUSA lunch (queen).


Alice likened the process of figuring out your career to finding the perfect partner - each new relationship teaches you more about yourself, and what red flags to look out for next time. She told students to “stay open-minded, because crazy things can happen and opportunities can present themselves in the weirdest ways…I spent five years [at uni] and ended up specialising in Chinese foreign policy, and now I’m a chef.”


Alice joined us in a video call from her new cosy log cabin room in Queenstown, having moved in just 24 hours prior. She said that while “it’s definitely an adjustment” after having settled into life in Auckland working as a pastry commis chef at Baduzzi, she’s “super stoked” to be there. “It’s a bit nerve-wracking, but that’s good. That’s when we make growth and progress, when we lean into the discomfort and the newness of things.”


Regarded as the best restaurant in Aotearoa, Amisfield will definitely be a step up for the budding young commis. While Baduzzi is more “casual” in comparison, Amisfield is a fine dining experience: “It’s very inventive and innovative. The food’s incredibly creative.”

This article first appeared in Issue 3, 2023.
Posted 12:54pm Sunday 12th March 2023 by Nina Brown.