Joelle Thomson

Writer, author, journalist

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Friday drinks with Cameron Woodhouse of Greystone Wines

Greystone Wines is one of the jewels in North Canterbury's wine crown and it now has a new chef at its cellar door restaurant. 

Meet Cameron Woodhouse, who has worked at Miro, Inati and Eliza’s Manor in Christchurch, at Jack’s Point and Amisfield in Central Otago and at Gleneagle’s Hotel in the Scottish highlands. 

This weekly interview on this website is inspired by the Proust questionnaire

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My partner and I recently bought a house in Christchurch so we can now lay down some roots. That was an amazing feeling. We’re lucky to now live near a foraging site, so that’s where you’ll find us on  weekends. It’s always fun experimenting with seasonal produce and whipping up new dishes based around what we can find.

Careerwise, transitioning from a pastry chef to a head chef was the greatest achievement for me. I had worked as a pastry chef for six years, so I thought that I was in too deep to change. It just goes to show sometimes you’re only limited by what you think.

What is your current state of mind? 

Teetering between chaos and calm. Being in sole charge of a kitchen means I am not only planning the menu for the week but ordering the food. Covid is throwing logistics out, so I am having to think pretty swiftly to make sure we get produce on time.

What is your favourite aspect of winemaking? 

I have always wanted to try grape-stomping. The idea always makes me laugh.

Do you have a most treasured wine? 

I have always loved using Sauternes and also love barrel aged Sauvignon Blanc.

Where is your favourite wine region?  

North Canterbury. Before I took on this role, I knew little about the region apart from names like Greystone, Pegasus Bay and Black Estate. I’m quickly learning there are over 70 vineyards in the North Canterbury Wine region, so I’ve got some exploring to do.

When and where are you at your happiest? 

The only time I ever really switch off completely and don’t think about cooking is when I’m walking up a river with my dog in the middle of nowhere. I love to fly fish too, so it’s the perfect combo. It doesn't matter if I don't catch a fish. I spend way too much time driving on my days off from the West Coast to the central South Island. My favourite place is Arthur's Pass or North Canterbury. 

What do you most dislike in wine? 

I don't like the pretentiousness that comes with wine. I think you should just like the wine you enjoy.

What is your greatest regret? 

This is a tough one. I wish I learnt more about wine early in my career. As a young chef no one taught me about wine or wine matching, so I’m enjoying picking that up now.

An ongoing and almost daily regret however, is forgetting to set a timer in the kitchen. I always have a tendency to burn nuts… the more expensive ones too.

What talent would you most like to have? 

I wish I could sing. Karaoke is not my strong suit but I do enjoy a good belt out session in my car.   

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? 

Not finding enjoyment in life. 

What is the trait that you most deplore in yourself?  

I'm really good at taking on more work than I can handle. I need to learn to say no more.  

What do you most value in your friends? 

Brutal honesty and loyalty. 

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 

“Does this need more acidity?” I say this to myself or my work mates about 20 times a day.

What is your favourite meal? 

This one is really easy. Two eggs soft boiled for five and a half minutes served with two slices of toast cut into soldiers. The most simple dishes are the best. 

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing what do you think it would be? 

A whisky barrel, preferably an ex sherry cask used for aging whisky in the highlands. 

* Greystone cellar door is open Thursday to Sunday.