Black Bear Kitchen combines the ambience and cuisine of a quality restaurant with the intimacy of a private home.
Created by long-time Wanaka resident Carole Ayres Black Bear Kitchen is a personal cooking company offering an authentic dining experience in homes and accommodation as well as more adventurous locations beside Lake Wanaka or in the mountains.
After a decade working alongside some of New Zealand’s best chefs at the exclusive Whare Kea Lodge and Chalet in Wanaka, Carole has advanced her passion for cooking to the next level with Black Bear Kitchen.
“I wanted to offer a service that provides everything from the menu creation to the table settings, wine selection and food preparation, as well as the clean-up. For example, the service is for people staying at Airbnbs that want to hold a special dinner party or a couple wanting a night to remember at the Whare Kea chalet. We are not a catering company, we are small and bespoke and our maximum is 20 guests. This enables us to work closely with our hosts to decipher anyone’s likes or dislikes, as well as dietary requirements, then we tailor a menu that everyone will love.”
A self-taught cook, Carole’s cuisine is based on fresh, seasonal and local produce. She describes her food as “modern-rustic” and is inspired by celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Yotam Ottolenghi as well as popular Kiwi chefs and restauranteurs Josh Emett and Al Brown.
“We love to showcase New Zealand ingredients as many of our guests are from overseas,” she says. “I like to be creative with the food we serve and I love interesting flavours. I’m also very particular about plating and enjoy making each dish look sensational.”
Carole and her team supply the crockery, dinnerware and linen needed for a dinner party or gathering with every detail carefully considered and curated ranging from the atmosphere to the colour scheme. All the ingredients are provided to cook anything from canapes to an elaborate degustation, whatever the location.
“We arrive and unpack, set the scene and head to the kitchen to pair the wine and prepare the food. We’ve also been known to help out and babysit the kids – anything which is required to make an occasion extra-special. When the meal is over, we leave the place as if we have never been there.”
Taste for Adventure
Black Bear Kitchen ventures outdoors to more intrepid venues as part of its personal cooking service.
From lakeside picnics and barbecues to camping meals and get-togethers on mountain tops only accessible via helicopter, Carole prepares everything needed to dine at the most unique locations.
“My love for the outdoors and cooking has been with me since my childhood,” she says. “Every memory is about the adventures and the food that was made on those trips. My work at Whare Kea inspired me to create these wonderful dining experiences in incredible, remote settings as well as inside people’s homes.”
Carole says Black Bear Kitchen supplies the equipment and ingredients allowing guests to sit back, relax and enjoy the environment.
“It’s such a pleasure to be able to cook for people in some of the most beautiful parts of the world which are found in the Southern Lakes.”