Wanderlust Kitchen
Pumpernickel meets Rēwena bread

The Magic Hour dinner in Wellington, plating the dessert
© Lottie Hedley

In 2018, the regional project Wanderlustküche – A Culinary Dialogue was one of the absolute highlights for friends, course participants and staff of the Goethe-Institut New Zealand! Nine Goethe-Institutes in South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand participated in the project, which aimed at bringing together chefs from Germany and the respective partner country under the motto “Tables without borders”. 

With the intention of also reducing prejudices towards German cuisine, the high point of this collaboration was the Magic Hour, a dinner for up to 150 guests created by the two master chefs. Leading up to this main event were individual programmes at each Goethe-Institut.

The Goethe-Institut New Zealand was delighted to have Wellingtonian Monique Fiso on board for the project. Monique is a rising chef, who is not only revolutionising Māori-cuisine but is also showing it to the world. Together with Helge Hagemann, who has previously worked in Canada and Japan and is part of the Werteköche in Hamburg, Monique developed a menu for the Magic Hour in Wellington.

Helge, Monique and her team faced the cultural (and culinary) challenge across time zones and language barriers, uncovering one or two preconceptions along the way. Within a few weeks, they came up with a fantastic three-course menu, which united both cultures but also reflected each chef’s individuality.

The blog Culinary Harbour Cities, where a Kiwi and a German write about specialties in the food service industry in Hamburg, Auckland and Wellington, and our Facebook series about German culinary expressions complemented the project. On top of that, a project week about food ran in the language department. The way to the heart is through the stomach, the way to learning German sometimes as well.

Our course participants also defied culinary clichés. Knödel and Marmite, we’re looking at you! After exploring regional German specialties in a treasure hunt, obviously being the experts they then presented typical food from New Zealand. Eventually, our course participants developed their own fusion recipes and surprised their teachers, who were already looking forward to the planned cooking contest, with fantastic ideas. The hobby chefs then showed off their skills and creativity in front of the jury and audience. With Kumara Currywurst Pie, Passion Fruit-Pudding-Brezeln and Kiwi-Strudel they convinced the gourmet jury and secured a spot at the table for the Magic Hour.

On December 3rd and 4th the Magic Hour finally took place at Monique’s restaurant Hiakai. The guests of the Goethe- Institut enjoyed a wonderful evening in a beautiful ambience. Monique and Helge took turns explaining each course of the menu, sharing an anecdote or two. They created a truly magical German- New Zealand dinner experience for everyone.

  • Monique Fiso and Helge Hagemann are foraging for herbs © Lottie Hedley
  • Helge Hagemann in Hiakai's kitchen © Lottie Hedley
  • Guests arriving at Hiakai © Lottie Hedley
  • Starter © Lottie Hedley
  • Guests enjoying their dinner © Lottie Hedley
  • Main dish © Lottie Hedley
  • Monique Fiso and Helge Hagemann at the Chef's Counter © Lottie Hedley
  • Dessert as part of the Goethe-Institut collaborative dinner with Helge Hagemann © Lottie Hedley
    Dessert as part of the Goethe-Institut collaborative dinner with Helge Hagemann