aaron bertelsen feature - cooking - gardening

Growing & Gardening – A Q&A with Great Dixter Chef Aaron Bertelsen

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This summer I met Aaron Bertelsen, internationally-acclaimed vegetable gardener and author of The Great Dixter Cookbook, when he gave a talk on winter months vegetable gardening at Shankill Castle as part of the Carlow Garden Festival in Ireland.

Aaron is currently the vegetable gardener and head cook at Great Dixter, once the East Sussex, England, home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd (1921-2006).

Below, Aaron answers Seven Creative Questions about his life and his fondness for cooking and growing food.

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NAME: Aaron Bertelsen

AGE (if you want to give it up): 46

COMPANY: Great Dixter

HOMETOWN: Auckland, NZ

CURRENT TOWN: Rye, UK

OCCUPATION: Gardener/ cook

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TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF: I am a vegetable gardener who is also a cook. I have written two books on the subject of cooking and growing.

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OUR SEVEN CREATIVE QUESTIONS FOR YOU :

1. How long have you been a cook? And what is your earliest food memory?

I have cooked since I moved to the UK in 1996 and had to fend for myself. It did not become part of my job till 2006. I remember as the child the smells of food cooking in our wood fired oven.

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2. Other than naming yourself, who is the best new cook to emerge in the last five to ten years? Why?

This is a very hard question. It is not a world that I am in and so don’t know many. I do enjoy reading Maggie’s Harvest by Maggie Beer.

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3. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve heard (business, cooking, gardening, writing, dating or otherwise)? And do you follow it?

Don’t sleep with people you work with! It never goes well.

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4. Where is your favorite garden, anywhere in the world, and why?

My favorite garden is De Wiersse in the Netherlands. It is a private garden that is so true to itself. Very hard to find such special gardens now days.

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5. What music, movie, book or magazine gets you ready to garden and/or cook?

I enjoy watching “Chef’s Table” on Netflix, I get ideas about the use of different vegetables etc., from it.

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6. What is the question a person should ask you, and how would you answer? Are you happy?

The answer is on the whole yes but at this moment I am questing my job and life, things should get even better….watch this space!

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7. What is the best meal you’ve ever had (so far), and what made it so memorable?

Not a question I really think I can answer. For me the most important thing is who I am eating with.

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Images Courtesy of Aaron Bertelsen

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Contributor Alice Lonfat-Chu can be reached at alice@newswhistle.com.