Nourishing Cambridge 

Allyson Gofton reminisces with cookbooks from Food in a Minute, which celebrates its 25th birthday this month.

Auckland’s loss has been Cambridge’s delicious gain since celebrity food writer Allyson Gofton and her family moved to Waipā two years ago.

Gofton and her husband Warwick lived in Meadowbank, Auckland, for 20 years before buying an Italian-inspired home in Cambridge in 2019.

“Our son, Jean-Luc, came down the year before to board at St Peter’s and then my husband and I decided we would move down because we could see our daughter, Olive-Rose, would be better off at a school in the country than a school in the city,” she said.

Jean-Luc (18) is now in his first year at the University of Waikato studying law and business and Olive-Rose (14) is at St Peter’s School.

Gofton is enjoying Cambridge life but admits “any change when you move from where you’ve been settled for a long time is always difficult”.

“But I have to say the community at St Peter’s and in Cambridge and my neighbours – I have to pay a special tribute to my neighbours – are just the most beautiful people,” she said.

“And I just think it’s a magical place.  I didn’t realise it rained so much – that has got to me – but otherwise I think it’s a wonderful place to live and I’m really delighted that we picked Cambridge.   The people here are salt of the earth people and they’re just so welcoming.”

Allyson Gofton. Photo: Rachael Hale McKenna

Born in Australia, Gofton has lived in New Zealand since 1983.  She has written more than 20 cookbooks but is perhaps best known for hosting television cooking snippet Food in a Minute – which celebrates its 25th birthday this month – from 1996-2009.

The one-minute television commercial showed viewers how to “use certain products in a simple, healthful meal”.

Gofton cooked up the “breakthrough advertising concept” with friend Mike O’Sullivan while working as PR manager of a five-star hotel in Auckland.

It was based on research that revealed at 4.30pm on any given weekday, 63 per cent of New Zealand cooks had no idea what they were going to make for dinner.

The show was “doing okay” until she came up with the time-saving idea of pouring packaged potato pom poms over a cottage pie rather than using traditional mashed potato.

“After that it went through the roof and they had to fly in product from Europe because they ran out so fast,” she said.  It just went gangbusters.”

Gofton hosted Food in a Minute for 13 years before stepping down in 2009 to focus on her family.

Since moving to Waipa she has been sharing her love and knowledge of food.

Earlier this year she worked on a pilot programme with Cambridge Community House and Kete Kai developing recipes to help people feed their families on a budget.

She’s also been helping her children’s various sports teams raise money by volunteering in the St Peter’s School food truck on Friday nights through winter.

Sometimes she helps devise menus, but she’s just as happy taking orders and serving up steaming trays of chicken curry and mac ‘n’ cheese to the hundreds of hockey players and supporters who converge on the St Peter’s School turf on wintry Friday evenings.

“There’s always a sausage sizzle – that’s so kiwi – and the debate over whether you get an egg with your burger or you don’t,” she said.

“I just love that kind of conversation because it is so much about the community and who likes what.  I think it’s just gorgeous.  What do you mean there’s no beetroot?”

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