From gate to plate

In his fancy chicken and chips recipe Marc complements Waitoa Free Range chicken with a host of home-grown ingredients to create a delicious twist on a familiar favourite.

Marc loves working closely with his suppliers, sharing the passion from farm gate to dinner plate. Executive Chef at Wharekauhau Lodge, Marc Soper, makes it his business to understand where his ingredients come from, whether from the Wharekauhau gardens or further afield.

 “You make it your business to understand where the product is coming from, who is growing it, and where,” he says. “I love working with Waitoa Free Range chicken…it’s on a different level, and is a perfect fit at Wharekauhau Lodge.”

Known for unique dishes that reflect the surrounding natural beauty of the Wairarapa region, Marc is a self-confessed food forager, hunting fresh, quality produce grown around the estate.

“Most of what we make here is produced onsite. It’s wholesome and for me, cooking is about coming back to the country and getting back to my roots,” says Marc. In this dish Marc showcases fresh produce from Wharekauhau with tender Waitoa chicken.

The potatoes come straight out of the ground in his garden and the quail eggs come from a place not far from Waitoa, working together to create a unique and flavoursome dish. The slight oakyness of a Vavasour Anna’s chardonnay is a perfect match with the chicken and pistachio nuts.

“You make it your business to understand where the product is coming from, who is growing it, and where,” he says. “I love working with Waitoa Free Range chicken…it’s on a different level, and is a perfect fit at Wharekauhau Lodge.”
Fancy Chicken and Chips

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 12 Waitoa Free Range chicken fillets
  • 4 large Agria or Nadine potatoes, peeled
    and washed well
  • ½ cup corn flour
  • 50g toasted pistachio nuts
  • 15g grated lemon zest
  • 100ml good quality Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves soft roasted garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cloves soft roasted garlic
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Pinot Noir vinegar
  • 150ml Grape seed oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 quail eggs
  • white vinegar and water to poach
  • 4 thin slices cured pork belly, crisp and warm
  • 100ml vanilla scented jus warm
  • herbs and flowers as required
  • deep fryer or canola oil in a 3ltr pot and a
    temperature probe to ensure temperature stays
    around 165C


  1. Using a potato turner, make potato strings with two potatoes, or slice thinly to make small lengths of string which can later be joined up. If you haven’t got a potato turner to make the strings, peel potato into a long strip and then cut into thin strips, or use a mandoline. Soak strings in cold water to remove as much starch as possible, before laying multiple lengths of potato string on a flat surface. Cut the other two potatoes into 5mm cubes and cook in salted simmering water until tender. Remove and cool in cold water
  2. Coat the tenders in corn flour, and position on the potato string. Gently wrap up potato string firmly along the tender and chill until required
  3. To make the aioli and pistachio puree, first prepare the garlic by roasting a whole garlic bulb in foil with a splash of oil and rolled up tight and roasted at 175oC for approximately 10 minutes, the garlic will be soft when done. Remove from the oven and squeeze out the soft garlic
  4. For the aioli, whisk together egg yolk, mustard, vinegar in a bowl, and gradually add the oil until the mixture combines and thickens. On a flat surface such as a chopping board squash the garlic with the side of a knife and add to the emulsified egg mixture. Beat in and season. If it’s too thick thin down with a little cold water. Store aioli in the fridge until required
  5. Tip: This will make more than what you need but use it to make a Waitoa Free Range chicken sandwich with your leftovers later in the week!
  6. To make the pistachio puree, place the toasted pistachios and soft garlic into a mortar and pestle and smash together. Add oil and lemon zest to make a chunky puree, and season to taste
    Poach the quail eggs in simmering water with a little white vinegar to hold the egg together, and refresh in ice water
  7. Cook the chicken in batches in a deep fryer or hot oil. When the potato is a nice crisp golden colour and the chicken has reached 165C internally remove and keep warm. Season to taste
    In two separate bowls of hot water, rewarm the eggs and diced potato slowly for four minutes, and drain on paper towels
  8. To construct the dish, place a few spoons of the aioli and the pistachio puree on a plate, followed by a quail egg. Trim each of the tenders, and position on the plate with some warmed crisp pork belly and spoon around the jus. Decorate the dish with your favourite herbs and flowers.

Perfect wine match: Vavasour Winery Anna’s Chardonnay