Chef Matt Lambert cooks over the coals with red-hot recipes to ramp up your summer barbecue.

Matt Lambert can’t wait to go camping. Just as soon as he can he will be packing up and heading north with his family to cruise round Cape Reinga, Ninety Mile Beach and Russell, as well as some quieter places to pitch the tent and spend family time.

It was a camping trip that inspired the recipes that Matt has cooked for Cuisine. He had pitched camp, had a camp fire going and some great meat prepared when inspiration struck. “I just went into the woods and got three sticks, made a tripod and hung stuff over the fire. It was really, really, really fun. The open flames become a focal point and you get some really tasty food, too.” He’s since upgraded his kit but the principle remains. “Because you’ve been nursing it all day, you’re excited to eat. That’s the sort of cooking I love.”

It’s a far cry from the upscale and elegant surroundings of The Lodge Bar in Auckland’s Commercial Bay, where Matt plies his not-inconsiderable exec cheffing prowess. Make no mistake, when Matt Lambert returned to New Zealand in 2020 it was a big deal – this is the West Auckland boy made good in the Big Apple, the chef whose spot-on-point New Zealand flair gained a Michelin star just four months after opening The Musket Room in New York City. What tempted him back was the opportunity to work again with the team at Lodge Bar Group. “They have huge future plans and I’m wildly positive and can’t wait to be part of them. It’s an amazing role with much more opportunity than I could do on my own.” Those plans include The Lodge Bar in the Myers store at Chadstone, Melbourne, newly opened in November 2021. The next in the stable will be in Brisbane, planned for the first part of 2022.

But right now, summer in New Zealand is on Matt’s mind and here he’s created dishes to make the most of it, including an epic eight-hour pork belly. “Gather people together, get the fire going and sit around and wait. These are the times you’ll remember years down the road. Time is pretty precious. Slow down.” TRACY WHITMEY