The chatter was lively. The Pinot Gris, perfect with the roast salmon on herb couscous – recipes from Unna’s recently released book, ‘My Garden Kitchen: easy weekday and slow food weekends’. And who could resist the sweet indulgence of home baked biscuits, just like Mum used to make.
Surrounded by a small group of passionate foodies, Unna’s story was told from the heart. A self-taught cook, Unna declared her absolute obsession with food and photography – especially the use of natural light for capturing the perfect image. For six months she wrote up the recipes she shared with her family and friends, cooked and cooked some more, styled and photographed the book. Her drive for perfection was such that when her Mum finally persuaded her to get a new camera part way through the cookbook process, she chose to reshoot many of the images.
Unna’s life is built of many layers – a sustainable family centred one. Her first creative influences were her grandparents: her Grandma a brilliant home cook; her Grandad a keen gardener and photographer. Everyone in her family cooks except her husband Aaron and her Dad but then they probably don’t need to. In “The Hilton” of chicken coops (built by Unna’s builder husband Aaron), it took 2 and ½ years to breed chickens from eggs laid under broody hens, to produce 10 different coloured eggshells – now that is obsessive! A life of sustainable living surrounded by trees and terraced vegetable gardens, with fresh honey from their own beehives – Aaron is a beekeeper and one day they hope to produce commercial honey too.
Unna’s advice to us all, ‘Do what you love. Ensure a genuine feel to what you do!’
I look forward to participating in Unna’s food styling and photography workshop in Tauranga in mid-November; to hear how Unna has leveraged social media to share her story, her vision and turn her passion into a business. Spaces are limited for these workshops in Tauranga, Hawkes Bay and Wellington so check the website The Forest Cantina / SHOP for information.
Don’t forget to take a look at the behind the scenes video The Forest Cantina / my cookbook
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.