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8 Waiheke Weekender
When her teaching qualifcation was not recognised in Australia,
catering business owner Sherri Hinch was forced to change career
direction and for the keen foodie, hospitality offered an alterna-
Born in Waihi, she had been around food from an early age. Her
mother started a coffee shop called Pink Candle with the frst coffee
machine in the mining town – where pink candles were used down
in the mines in the early days. Her mother, she recalls, was always
an adventurous cook, creating dishes that Sherri wouldn’t dream of
and she remains an active culinary experimenter at age 80.
Sherri graduated from teachers’ college and shortly after headed
to Australia to be a bridesmaid for a girlfriend’s wedding. This
proved a life-changing move, as she fell in love with the best man
and stayed for many years.
After a stint at the seaside Steyne Hotel in Manly, Sherri was
appointed functions manager at the Manly Golf Club, stepping in
when the chef didn’t turn up. Later, she was approached by a staff-
ing agency and found herself catering for exclusive parties for the
rich and famous.
It was during this chapter that she met chef Joseph, whose claim
to fame was serving Frank Sinatra his chocolate mousse, to have
the performer return the next evening to repeat the experience.
It was Joseph who shared his skill with Sherri and the secret to
making the perfect Croquembouche, now her signature dish.
Sherri enjoyed a stint in flm catering and on set food styling,
which presented some interesting food challenges. On one occa-
sion she was tasked with making a two-foot 8-inch croquembouche
– the same height as Verne Troyer (best known for his role as ‘Mini-
Me’, Dr. Evil’s smaller and more concentrated pure evil protégé, in
the hit movie Austin Powers; The Spy Who Shagged Me) for the
villain to push his face into.
While working on Warriors Way with Kate Bosworth, she
was asked to style a huge steak for lead actor Dong-gun Jang,
who happened to be a vegetarian. She had to substitute a vegetar-
ian option while making it look real.
Widowed at just 43, Sherri and her son Perrin returned to New
Zealand and she resumed her work in food styling in the flm
industry, working on Sione's Wedding where she presented 21
whole pigs as part of the wedding feast. Luckily, they didn’t go
to waste, she says, as one of the team took them home for a boil
up and returned with them for the crew to enjoy the next day.
With her son growing up, Sherri was keen to make a change
and, loving the baking aspect of her cooking, she liked the thought
of becoming a baker in a country town. However on second
thoughts, she decided she’d get bored silly and a tourist town
would be a better option.
Janet Meredith, a friend for many years, suggested coming to
Waiheke and together they ran the kitchen at the Waiheke Bowling
Club. She now has her own catering business, Food Mechanix,
and also runs the Cookhouse at the RSA, along with many private
events, fundraisers, functions and weddings.
Her croquembouche is popular, particularly for weddings, and
she shares her secret recipe and tips for building the perfect tower.
A croquembouche is a traditional French dessert and translates to
'crunch in the mouth'. The profterole which forms the base of this
dessert is a choux pastry ball flled with whipped crème, custard or
Choux pastry is marvellous, easy to make and can be used for sweet or
savoury dishes. It is the base for a cheese souffé, can be mini puffs as
savoury fnger food flled with salmon and cream cheese, blue cheese
paté, chicken and herb mayonaisse or, famously, as profteroles with
whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
1 cup water
1 cup four
Melt the butter in the water in a heavy-based pot. When in a rolling
boil, slip in sifted four off a plate in one motion and then stir briskly
until it forms a ball. Add to the mixer bowl and cool slightly, then add
eggs one at a time and beat until shiny.
Bake on sprayed biscuit tray, either use a spoon (I used a teaspoon)
or piping bag to make balls of whatever size (or sausage shapes for
chocolate éclairs). Put in a 200º oven for 20 minutes after generously
sprinkling water on the tray – steam helps puffs to rise.
To make a croquembouche – a traditional French wedding cake – fll
your puffs with pastry cream (which can be favoured with liqueur) or
whipped cream. You can choose to dip the crown of the balls in cara-
mel, dark or white chocolate and assemble the tower using caramel to
stick the balls together.
Above -- Sherri Hinch: At home in the kitchen.
Left – The choux pastry before flling and after
being glazed with caramel.
A colourful career in catering
Caterer Sherri Hinch shares the secret to making
the perfect croquembouche -- the traditional French
wedding cake and a showstopping dessert.
0800 372 100
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GREAT FOOD, GREAT PRICES, GREAT SERVICE!
Phone Sherri on 0210 651 998 | 372 9898
Open 7 days 10am -- 5pm
In the heart of Oneroa • 2/116 Ocean View Road • 372 6873
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feeling and looking great
• Maximise your energy levels
• Achieve your ideal weight with minimum effort
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