Allyson Gofton’s first words to us are a warning: “Once I start talking I won’t shut up.” Fair warning, and absolutely 100% true. The words flowed in a torrent, every one a gem, but sadly for those who missed her, Saturday was the second to last day in her whirlwind tour with the new book.
Off to a running start, and a mini overview of her career – starting with her training in a Tasmanian maternity hospital kitchen, through to the cheffy European years. She spoke about her arrival in the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly kitchens to work with Tui Flower. Allyson was thinking “lobster thermidor and creme caramel”, and was soon set straight: “No, child, this is New Zealand. Here we do luncheon sausage and scones”.
She spent time with Galloping Gourmet Graham Kerr, and Robyn Martin, had stints at several other magazines, was on our screens for the Food In A Minute years and launched her own range of cookbooks.
The reason for today’s session is the launch of the Country Calendar Cookbook, to coincide with Country Calendar’s 45th anniversary on our TV screens.
Allyson is an astonishing multi-tasker – while all this is being shared, there’s also cooking going on – recipes from the book: oyster chowder, Boston bun, something to do with a ricotta pancake filling; AND a slideshow featuring many of the people she met touring the country with Country Calendar.
It goes a bit like this: “blurb blurb Bio details, blurb blurb That’s the gorgeous Karen, quote from Karen, Oh and now we pop the seafood in and keep stirring, blurb blurb truffles, blurb blurb cowsh*t on my leather sandals, Now I’ll make a basic icing for the bun, blurb blurb skinning a rabbit in a Christian Dior cardy, here’s a picture of my son, gooseberry pie …” Imagine all of this delivered at breakneck speed, with no sign of stress at all, and the highest number of toilet words I’ve ever heard at a food event, and add the intoxicating smell of garlic frying in butter. Everyone in the room is in booky foodie heaven, and totally in love with this amazing woman.
After the session, she’s all over the room signing books and chatting to people, having her photo taken, making sure people are having drinks, trying the food and generally enjoying themselves. We extract the promise of an interview later on, get Shirley’s photo taken, have the cookbook signed and drive off into the Oxford sunset, with me STILL trying to figure out how to tell you all the word Allyson used that I’ve NEVER EVER heard anyone say out loud at ANY book event.