Judha McDonald will be well known to many as the Head Chef at Jam Cafe – an institution in Takapuna. Judha grew up in Christchurch and has now lived in Auckland for 23 years. He lives in Beachhaven. He’s been chefing now for 15 years. Food is obviously a big interest for Judha, but so is people and entertaining. He loves a chat. He says that his interest in people and entertaining is why he was so drawn to being a chef. Food brings people together and he really loves being that guy to host a dinner or entertain. Whether it’s a small group of close friends at home or if he's catering events for friends, Judah gets a great buzz to know his food is making people happy. He also loves to play basketball and watch even more basketball. He loves to stay as active as he possibly can. In between work, sport and the gym Judha likes "exploring the good, old backyard New Zealand has to offer” – he says the West Coast has some awesome bush walks – chasing waterfalls and all that jazz! Judha shared a favourite recipe with regular Jam patron Aidan Bennett in July – BBQ pulled pork with apple/fennel slaw, charred tortillas and chipotle mayo. Yum!
AIDAN BENNETT: What is your recipe and where did it originate from?
JUDAH McDONALD: The recipe I’m sharing is my twist on a classic Sunday family meal. BBQ pulled pork with apple/fennel slaw, charred tortillas and chipotle mayo. It’s come from many years of classic family Sunday roasts, slowly encouraging my whanau to be a little bit more adventurous and introducing them to new and fresh flavours.
AB: What’s the secret to making this recipe work?
JM: Good quality ingredients and fresh produce are always key. But at the end of the day you have to enjoy it! Gotta love the process and what you’re cooking – it’ll show on the plate.
AB: Why did you choose this recipe?
JM: This is a great feed for winter time or summer time, it’s very versatile. Being a dish that people can kind of build themselves creates a cool vibe. I love this style of eating! Little bit of that and a little more of that. Sharing is caring and like I said before food brings people together.
AB: What do you love about cooking as a career?
JM: Haha, I feel like I’m repeating myself a little bit. Firstly, I love giving. Cooking means I can create something pretty magical in the kitchen and then feed the masses! Family/friends/customers. I put the same love into all cooking. Secondly, creativity. Playing with food never gets old. Thirdly, who doesn’t like eating?
AB: Self taught, or did you have a mentor or formal training?
JM: Bit of both. I guess you could say my mentor was my Dad. Always cooking old school family recipes, started learning my way around food from there. Tasting and experimenting. Formal was uni – went through the stages, started my trade at Café 98 in Birkenhead which was my first opportunity. Shout out to Richard and Anita Ransfield for giving me my first shot. I was part of the team for best café in Auckland and regional winner of Wild Food Challenge. Can’t forget to mention Chef Mike Slaven and Chef Adrian Chilton for bringing me into the madness that is Jam Organic, definitely a huge influence that has helped shape my chefing career.
AB: What’s your favourite cuisine?
JM: Probably Asian at the moment. Really enjoying hunting out the best Pho and best noodles the Shore can offer.
AB: What do you love about working in Takapuna?
JM: Great community and I love the friendly faces. Always good to have a yarn with the regulars, catch up on what they are doing. Also, summer is a bonus with the beach just a couple steps away – ocean swims are a great way to end a busy service. Can’t really complain can I?
AB: If you could dine anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
JM: Japan. Hands down. Recipes that have been passed down for generations and generations are priceless.
AB: You and your partner Tamara recently shaved your heads for charity, tell us about that and what you raised and for what cause?
JM: We did! It was for SHAVE FOR A CURE which raises funds for the Leukaemia and Blood Cancer Foundation. Unfortunately this foundation isn’t supported by the government so it’s a really great cause to get behind. Tamara’s Mum, Marianna, passed away from breast cancer eight years ago. I never got the chance to meet her and losing the beard was a tiny sacrifice to get behind a really brave fundraiser. T has always taken time to fundraise for cancer so I’m really proud of her for that. We were extremely lucky to have such a massive amount of support – We had fundraising buckets at Jam, friends from THE BIG PICTURE printing company, photography from BIANCA DYER PHOTOGRAPHY, James Williams from DARC hairdressers, beer from SAWMILL and we raised over $5000 and had an incredible turn out at THE BEER SPOT of friends, family and community.
AB: If you weren’t a chef what else would you be doing (as a career)?
JM: Professional NBL player for the NZ Breakers... hahaha.nCan’t really see myself doing anything else! Need to be hands on. Maybe a cop? Love getting behind a little bit of community watch in Takapuna. Maybe get into some DIY handyman work, always starting jobs around the house.. not so much finishing though! I think I’ll stick to cooking.
JUDHA’S BBQ PULLED PORK W APPLE/FENNEL SLAW + CHIPOTLE MAYO
Prep time: 30 mins/Cooking time: 2 & 1/2 hours.
800g Free range pork shoulder (boneless and skinless)
750ml vege stock (homemade works best but store bought works fine)
1 x carrot
1 x granny smith apple
1 x leek
2 x cloves of garlic
1cm cube of ginger
3 TBSP soy sauce
100ml BBQ sauce (once again, home-made is best but store bought works fine)
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp chilli flakes
2 x bay leaves
1 tsp coconut sugar
Pinch of flaky sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 CUPS of red cabbage – sliced/chopped/julienned/whatever floats your boat
1 CUP of carrot – same as above
½ CUP of granny smith apple - as above
½ CUP of fennel bulb – as above
¼ CUP sliced red onion
Handful of mint roughly chopped
2 TBSP of organic apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
200ml mayo (again, I like to make my own but store bought works perfectly fine)
2 tsp of chipotle peppers (use the sauce, chop the peppers, taste as you add because it heats up fast!)
Pinch of cracked black pepper.
And to put it all together I used authentic corn tortillas – gluten free as well
Probably would suggest about three per person.
PRE HEAT OVEN 200°C
(You will need a crock pot or deep oven dish for this bit)
· Cut the pork into 4cm cubes, cutting off the excess fat.
· Rub pork with paprika, ground cumin and coconut sugar and set aside.
· Roughly chop the carrots, leek and apple and chuck into your crock pot.
· Smash your ginger and garlic (skins on and all, doesn’t matter it’s all just for the flavour flav) and throw that in the crock pot
· Pour your vege stock and soy sauce into the crock pot, add chilli flakes, coriander seeds and bay leaves.
· Add the pork into the crock pot with all your veges and stock, chuck the lid on and put it in the oven for two and a half hours.
While you’re waiting for your meat to cook prep your slaw! Practise makes perfect..
· Finely slice red cabbage, carrot, red onion, fennel bulb and granny smith apple. (You can cheat – use a grater for the carrot and apple).
· Roughly chop the mint.
· Add organic apple cider vinegar, but don’t toss the slaw until you’re about to serve.
· Easy as - mix your mayo of choice, the chopped chipotle peppers and sauce in a little bowl, season if you want to – keep tasting!
· Once the pork is cooked, remove the pork from the crock pot and put into a smaller pot (just the meat – but don’t throw any of the liquid out!)
· Tear the pork apart – I find the easiest way is with a fork and a pair of tongs
· Add your BBQ sauce and 100ml of the pork stock (the liquid you have left over from cooking the pork – I told you not to throw it out!)
· On a low heat on the stove top, mix the stock and sauce through the pulled pork. Make sure it’s well mixed through.
· It’s now time to toss your slaw!
· Heat your tortillas – whatever you choose is fine. Soft white buns work great as well.
· Set up your table and let your whanua dig in.
It’s simple, a little time consuming but so worth it and I hope you can enjoy this recipe as much as I do.