Chef Paul Froggatt – Huka Lodge
We use the EGG in so many ways – it really can handle anything I want to cook.
In the 1920s, Irishman Alan Pye first discovered the incredible fly fishing on the Waikato River just above Huka Falls in New Zealand. Pye established a fishing lodge on the bank of the river and before long the fame of Huka Lodge had spread to every corner of the world. As its reputation for outstanding trout fishing and warm hospitality spread, Huka Lodge attracted such famous anglers as HM Queen Elizabeth, Charles Lindbergh and James Michener, who wrote part of Return to Paradise at the Lodge.
Accommodations were spartan at first, but over the decades new owners have added a high level of luxury to a magnificent location. The focus on creative, exciting cuisine has progressed as well, with Big Green Egg-cooked dishes complementing the Huka Lodge’s famed hospitality.
Today, British-born Paul Froggatt, Huka Lodge’s Executive Chef, brings a fresh approach with the diverse and contemporary menus he creates for his guests. Paul initially trained in the UK and France, where he worked at Gidleigh Park Hotel (two Michelin stars), Bernard Loiseau en Bourgogne (three Michelin stars), Château de Courcelles (one Michelin star) and Amber (two Michelin stars) at The Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. “As a chef, I’ve always had two ambitions. The first was to cook to the highest level of Michelin stars, and I’ve now done this at four of the world’s great restaurants,” says Paul. “The second has been to work at a leading lodge, where I can create an environment where guests feel welcome and at home, almost as if they were in my own kitchen.”
New Zealand’s strong focus on free-range and organic production aligns beautifully with Paul’s desire to create stunning dishes based on peak seasonal availability. His estate-to-plate philosophy has resulted in close relationships with growers, gatherers and farmers, including Huka Lodge’s own herb garden and beehives. “In New Zealand almost everything is local. Not much is imported here, so I really like to find the small growers or producers that have unique ingredients … they know when the food is at its best. We use a wild herb forager that lets me know what is available in the wild, and then he will pick what I like … nothing can beat this.”
Chef Paul is obsessive about the quality of the ingredients he uses; the presentation is exquisite while the textures and flavor combinations are superb. “I really like that you can cook anything on the EGG, from a seared steak with grilled vegetables, to scallops or pizza or a slow-cooked cut of pork. I really enjoy that beautiful roasted crust and then the lightly smoked taste that comes after. We use the EGG in so many ways – it really can handle anything I want to cook.”