When we first brought our home in 2015 after years of searching, we were focused on providing our kids a taste of what we had growing up in rural and seaside villages, pre social media, pre online gaming. A more outside world, with trees and gardens, space for backyard cricket, a real sense of community and what felt like a simpler life?
The new place came with an outdoor fire much to everyone's excitement, we moved in September and by Christmas we were toasting marshmallows with our family over from Australia. The heat was OK, the kids that lived in a far warmer climate were still wrapped in blankets but we spent hours out enjoying the ambiance, spinning a few yarns and generally drinking too much beer.
In Sept 2018 we spotted an outdoor oven business for sale and with several other people snapping at our heels we swiftly purchased The Kiwi Outdoor Oven Company, totally based on sitting in front of one, on a cold and wet Saturday afternoon in Pauanui. We fell in love with the product, the spectacular heat and the vision of the future, friends and family chilling at our place in front of the hottest outdoor fire we had come across with belly's stuffed with delicious wood fired food.
We announced to our friends that we would be the host to the great Oven Testing party at our place, bring something to "test" in the oven, we had no clue, we were all in this together. To this day we have no idea how we managed it but OMG the food!!! Chicken so moist and tender it was gone in a flash, lamb roast, maple syrup salmon on crackers, garlic bread, pizza, roast vegetable salad, apple pie - everyone was hooked and.. then.. to be able to load the firebox up with wood to enjoy the heat meant is was a very late night.
Since then we have had multiple parties from teen birthday's, end of school celebrations, car clubs, neighborhood get togethers, friends, family, all day cooks and The Kiwi Outdoor Oven has been the main highlight of the gathering. We did try hard to keep our concrete outside fire as well, it was kind of cute but after a serious family discussion about the lack of heat projected and how it was lacking compared with the Kiwi Outdoor Oven, one Saturday afternoon the sledge hammers came out and "we smashed it bro". Why waste the prime outdoor spot?
In the last year, we have had to spend more time at home and for part of it, we have been isolated from our family and friends, it's been tough and has highlighted how important it is to stay connected, to make time to come together and enjoy each others company. The outdoors became our release as cabin fever set in and the kids discovered there is beauty to discover outside and many different activities to do that change each day - it is that change that helped to keep us all sane!
Why have we not done this sooner we cried, everything is so much better outside! Oh that's right, NZ is not balmy all year round, we can have scorching sun, driving rain and gale force winds all within a few hours of each other, it is not uncommon to have a snow dumping in the South at Christmas. Our weather does not lean towards outdoor living like many other countries so we have been a bit slow to catch on but thanks to sexy louvres, mesh screens, solar lights and landscape designers we are developing our very own Kiwi Outdoor.
Of course we don't have all of these at our home yet but our ovens are experiencing the best life in many varied settings. Customers are loving that not only can they make the best wood fire pizzas but also they can cook a roast, smoke fish, roast vegetables, bake bread, grill sausages and even bake a cake, all in one day by controlling the temperature through dampers and wood. The heat is radiating and the fire box large so everyone is keep warm into the night and when it is time to go to bed, there are no fire concerns as the oven is fully locked up with a spark arrestor in the flue.
I haven't tracked and can't even think of how much money we have saved with our Kiwi Outdoor Oven but I do know we eat at home a lot more, why eat out when it tastes better at home? The kids screw up their noses at our old standard "takeaway" - a roast chicken from the supermarket with buns and coleslaw - the chicken is too dry compared to The Kiwi Outdoor chicken! We swop recipes with other oven owners, compare different rubs and discuss the best way to cook different styles of food. The love of cooking has increased and its a family affair, no longer is anyone stuck in the kitchen, we sit outside chopping and dicing, organizing toppings or watching food come from the oven to the table. Everyone feels part of the experience.
Some of our best memories have been made around an outdoor fire, ghost stories with the kids, our chef friend teaching us how to toast the perfect marshmallow, making s'mores, kids snuggled on chairs as they drift off to sleep in front of the heat and teenagers sleeping under the stars in front of the fire on bean bags. Christmas lunch, birthday dinners, lockdown afternoons - all time together, enjoying each others company.
We are loving our Kiwi Outdoor story and can't wait for the years to come.... What is your story going to be?