Queenstown is globally renowned for its fantastic dining experiences where visitors can savour delicious local produce surrounded by snow-capped mountains, roaring rivers, and alpine lakes.
Chef Corey Hume is a culinary Olympian who has recently been appointed Executive Chef of The Rees Hotel Queenstown’s True South Dining Room (formerly Executive Chef of Blanket Bay Lodge). Hume is passionate about staying seasonal and using only the finest ingredients in his creative dishes.
Hume has a unique take on the suppliers, food and wines that exemplify Queenstown with a special New Zealand twist. Here are Corey’s top picks for food and wine buffs or anyone wanting to enjoy the best of what New Zealand’s South Island has to offer. Queenstown and nearby Gibbston valley are home to over 75 wineries which have a reputation for producing some of the world’s best wine varieties, particularly Pinot Noir.
Favourite Seasonal Queenstown Produce and Suppliers
Stonefruit from Roxburgh, apples and cherries from Cromwell. Asparagus in spring and Jerusalem artichokes in winter from Julie at Nevis Gardens in Gibbston Valley. Julie is a passionate gardener, and her vegetables taste amazing. They remind me of the vegetables my family grew when I was a kid. You can taste the difference compared to the mass-produced commercial varieties. Rocket from the local grower, Tony; he also has the most amazing snow peas and cornflowers.
Cardrona Distillery makes the most awesome spirits, and I use their premium Source Gin to cure salmon and its roe which I source from Mt Cook, and their limited edition Bourbon which pairs beautifully with the banana Tarte Tatin with Valrhona Jivara and Lime ice cream.
The truffles in New Zealand are also fantastic from certain trufferies in the South Island. Bluff oysters when in season are fantastic as are the Fiordland live lobster. Our honey we harvest here from the Hotel is great too. There are many wonderful cheesemakers throughout New Zealand who are numerous to mention. Cheese in New Zealand has come a long way. A favourite of mine is Whitestone's Windsor Blue, which their penicillin is based on a Roquefort culture, but locally developed.
One new ground-breaking ingredient, Pamu deer milk from Gore, in the South Island, is a world first product which I'm using on my dessert menu currently.
Picks For Local Herbs
We grow bay leaves, thyme and rosemary at the hotel. I'm eager to expand what we do, especially into edible flowers and other herbs. I use our thyme we grow which grows wild throughout Otago a lot in my dishes as well as the fresh bay leaf. For me, they're two of my staple herbs. I try to source as many local herbs and vegetables as I can. There is a local herb grower, Basil, Parsley & Partners who are growing things like purple perilla which I use when in season.
Favourite Queenstown Restaurants
La Rumbla in Arrowtown is great for dinner and super consistent for local tapas-style dishes and run by a well-travelled Kiwi couple. The service is always warm and welcoming, and the food has always been tasty.
The other, and it's a local favourite for breakfast/lunch, is Bespoke Kitchen, on the hill that leads up to the Gondola. It is a typical kiwi cafe that is uniquely us in that way. Casual and cool.
Favourite South Island/ Local Staple Dish
Bluff oysters are fantastic. They're very different than the more common pacific rock oyster, slightly sweet, juicy and full of umami.
Best dishes at True South Dining Room
The Fiordland Crayfish are really good. I have that on the menu based on market availability and we can also fly guests over to the west coast to have them hand-dived and cooked that evening for their dinner!
My other favourite product to use is lamb from a farmer called Bill Leeland. He's an ex All Black and a very smart farmer. His lamb under the label Leeland's is amazing and is grown down in the Caitlins.
Last but far from least, our new signature dessert series which highlights nature. It's hyper- realistic fruit, which we call our fruit series. It's based on seasonal fruit from the area at different times of the year.
Ultimate Queenstown Day Trip
Roman Lee-Lo (director operations): I like to head out of Queenstown to where the locals go and hang out, as guests love those sort of experiences. Akarua Wines & Kitchen, Arrowtown, is a beautiful lunch spot just 20 minutes away from The Rees Hotel with hand crafted cuisine matched with wines from Akarua’s vineyard. Just a five minute drive away from Akarua is La Rumbla where you can enjoy amazing tapas and cocktails in a lively atmosphere. Afterwards, walk just around the corner to savour dinner at Aosta which is known for its fresh produce and Northern Italian-inspired cooking techniques.
Roman Lee-Lo’s favourite local wineries:
Felton Road: Labelled a ‘star producer’ by The Times, Felton Road is best known for creating some of Central Otago’s most prestigious Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling whites.
Quartz Reef Wines: This vineyard has organic and biodynamic certification and is known for its Estate Grown Methode Traditionnelle Non- Vintage and Vintage, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir.
Rippon Vineyard: This family-owned vineyard is renowned for its Pinot Noir, Riesling whites, and tasting room with picturesque views of the vineyards and Lake Wanaka.
Modern Kiwi Recipe
I've just developed this canape called a squid salami using NZ Arrowhead squid. The Kawakawa Salsa Verde that goes with this is really what helps elevate the profile of how I've put the squid together. It uses a native New Zealand plant called Kawakawa. I love to use this. It's on my current menu as one of the snacks. I grew up in Christchurch, and while sitting on the hill in Scarborough, you could see the squid boats at night working just off the east coast.
Corey Hume’s Kawakawa Salsa Verde:
- 1 packet Chives, finely sliced
- 1 packet Basil, leaves only, chopped
- 2 packet Italian Parsley, chopped
- 2 packet Chervil, chopped
- 50gm Baby capers, rinsed
- 2 Lemons, juice only
- 50gm Kawakawa puree (from making oil)
- 50gm Kawakawa oil
- 100gm Grapeseed oil
Place into the mortar and pestle, grinding until a nice paste is achieved, finishing with the lemon juice. Adjust with salt if needed.