Bevan (Ngāi Tahu) is the middle son of Yvonne and the late Don Kaan from Ōtākou. He was brought up in Dunedin and studied macrobiotics in Switzerland, before opening a restaurant back in Dunedin. He then moved to Auckland, opened another restaurant, and developed a reputation as one of the city’s most respected macrobiotic chefs and teachers. Bevan now lives on Waiheke Island with his family, and has opened a unique restaurant just steps from the water at Little Oneroa Beach. Actually, “restaurant” isn’t quite the right word – it’s a food trailer complete with a pizza oven, inspired by the elements of earth, wind, fire and air, and a taniwha carved over it.
Bevan creates his takeaways under the label Dragonfired Artisan Woodfired Food. Dishes include pizza, and a polenta plate of roasted polenta squares topped with feta cheese, accompanied by fresh tomato salsa, refried beans and a small mixed green salad. He’s adding new dishes, like a beef steak pocket with tomato salsa and locally grown salad. Simple, healthy and tasty.
Bevan’s food is continuing to make waves, earning rave reviews in food blogs and the title of New Zealand Herald Viva Ultimate Takeout Food Winner 2011. Bevan says the food he produces isn’t strictly macrobiotic, but follows similar principles, using whole food and local organic produce, and making food with thought and love. Kaituhituhi Mark Revington spoke to Bevan.
Did you grow up in a foodie family?
Yes, food was a major part of our everyday life. I was born in Dunedin and grew up in Sawyers Bay. Our family had a market garden and fruit and vegetable shop that we would all help run and almost everything my father did was about food – growing, catching and cooking it. I discovered how important food is and I love all aspects of the foodie thing.
What attracted you to macrobiotics?
It started from my personal interest of how the foods I was eating affected my asthma and general wellbeing. I found a book on macrobiotics and could not stop reading it. When I started putting the philosophy into practice, I felt my health improve dramatically. The philosophy is based on oriental medicine and explains the way life works in a universal and personal way. Ultimately macrobiotics is about creating health, happiness and peace on personal and universal levels. It’s a very important philosophy to know about to help guide us into the future. It is not a religion. It is for all human beings to help understand how to live together in health, harmony and peace in a selfless way.
How did your passion for macrobiotics lead to Dragonfired Artisan Woodfired Food?
I came to live on Waiheke Island with my young family when Phoebe was four years old and Angelo was one. I travelled all around New Zealand looking for somewhere that was not polluted by modern poisonous agricultural practices.
I wanted to show my children how to live well and make them aware that their choices can make them healthy or harm them. That’s not to say that we live in a 100 per cent pure way. Humans have made such a mess of the world that it makes it impossible, but we try and live the best we can in a practical way living among others.
I needed to provide money for the family to live and so I built the trailer with a woodfired oven. I started to sell organic pocket breads filled with refried beans, avocado, local salad and salsa at the Saturday market. The ovens are famous for cooking pizza these days but I wanted to show that you can cook much healthier foods than just pizza.
After a year or two, I got my street trading licence and because pizza is what most people want, I make pizza but still serve the pocket breads and roasted polenta with roast vegetables as the seasons change.
Can you tell me a bit about Dragonfired Artisan Woodfired Food and your philosophy?
I love working with the five elements of nature and use as much local and organic ingredients as possible. Dragonfired is a way for me to show what I would like to tell and interacting face-to-face with the community is fun. I also get to grow some of the food myself.
Dragonfired Artisan Woodfired Food is about a healthy life style and a way to provide for my family. I want to grow Dragonfired throughout New Zealand and serve and promote the benefits of local organic food to people, resulting in a healthy community, so I am currently busy refining and building more dragons.
What inspires you about food and cooking?
Food is the source of life of any living thing and it is important to consume the right foods so we can live well. It’s like putting the right fuel in your car – it runs better.
Are there any plans and dreams for the future that you can share?
I want to focus more on helping people retain good health and life styles through food and all its aspects.