Who we are...
Tēnei te mihi atu ki a koutou, mai Maketū ki te ao, tēnā koutou katoa.
Nau mai, haere mai.
We are Kārena and Kasey Bird, sisters from the beautiful beachside community of Maketu. It is the landing ground of the Te Arawa waka and the place where our connection to kai/food began.
We were fortunate to grow up in a community where everyone knew each other. Fresh fruit, vegetables, and seafood were always shared among neighbors after a harvest or a day of diving and fishing. The provenance of the kai we consumed was always local and fresh. It was an idyllic upbringing.
In 2014, we entered and won Masterchef New Zealand, which changed our lives. After our win, we self-published our first cookbook, "For the Love of...", which quickly became a bestseller and won the Best Television Cookbook at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Our second cookbook, "Hungry", won a prize at the same awards the following year for photography (a heartfelt acknowledgment to Deborah Aspray). We were also honored with a 'Lifetime Achievement Award' for the self-publication of our two award-winning books.
We have filmed two seasons of our cooking series, "Karena and Kasey's Kitchen Diplomacy", which took us to 20 different international destinations. In each episode, we explored a country's culture and food, from epic street food to top-tier fine dining restaurants. Since Masterchef, we have traveled to over 50 destinations worldwide while also participating in numerous food events throughout New Zealand.
Our experiential dining experience, "The Creation Dinner", showcased our passion for storytelling through food. Each course was inspired by the Māori creation kōrero, with visual and audio elements immersing the diners in this culinary journey.
Recently, we dedicated time to become fluent in te reo Māori, further deepening our love for storytelling through food and intertwining our cultural knowledge with inventive dishes.
We are truly grateful to be able to do what we love and share it with all of you.
Ngā mihi nui,
Karena and Kasey