Alison Holst is New Zealand’s most influential chef of all time, according to a nationwide survey run by online culinary school, International Culinary Studio.

The survey asked participants who they thought had made the biggest impact on the New Zealand food scene, either past or present. The public, hospitality students and industry insiders were all asked for their opinion.

Kiwi cooking icon, Alison received 19 percent of the votes, putting her a good margin ahead of anybody else. Nadia Lim was second (14.3%), followed by Simon Gault (13.9%), Annabelle White (10%) and Peter Gordon (8%).

When asked why they had named Alison as the most influential chef, one respondent said:

“Alison brought great recipes to everyday Kiwis in an achievable, accessible way. She had a massive impact on the New Zealand cooking scene during my lifetime.”

Other reasons for votes included:

“He was the first New Zealand chef to forge a path as a highly recognisable “celebrity” chef and has done great things both in terms of his restaurants and his own brand.” (Simon Gault)

“She won MasterChef and has gone into a business serving communities across New Zealand. My Food Bag has become a household name. She has also become a powerful advocate of natural, unprocessed foods.” (Nadia Lim)

“At a time when New Zealanders weren’t dining out or being adventurous with food he had a successful restaurant in Wellington, did TV cooking programmes and published great cooking books. His is still the best ice-cream recipe I have ever eaten!” (Des Britten)

Cheryl Nesbitt, founder of International Culinary Studio says she is not surprised by the results, commenting that it is testament to Alison’s long and successful career as a New Zealand food writer and chef.

“Alison is one of New Zealand’s original TV chefs and her cookbooks are owned by millions of people. With her focus on simple, cost-effective but healthy recipes that are easy for everyday people to put together at home, it’s no wonder that so many Kiwis say that they have been influenced by her over the years. She has helped countless New Zealanders become more confident in the kitchen.”

Alison made her first national television cooking programme in 1965, a few months after the introduction of television to New Zealand, and published her first best-selling cookbook the year after. She published more than 75 popular cookbooks, which have sold over 3 million copies, and became well known for her TV appearances, newspaper columns, magazine articles, radio broadcasts and cooking demonstrations.

In 1983 Alison received a Queen’s Service Medal for Services to the Community, in 1987 was made a CBE for Services to Home Science, and in 1997 was given a honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Otago.

New Zealand’s Top 15 Most Influential Chefs

  1. Alison Holst – 19%  
  2. Nadia Lim – 14.3%
  3. Simon Gault – 13.9%  
  4. Annabelle White – 10%
  5. Peter Gordon – 8%
  6. Ray McVinnie – 5.9%
  7. Philippe Raoult – 5.9%
  8. Al Brown – 5% 
  9. Josh Emmett – 4.7%
  10. Annabel Langbein – 3.9%
  11. Des Britten – 2.7% 
  12. Peter Thornley – 2.3%  
  13. Vaughn Maybee – 1.9%  
  14. David van Staden – 0.8%  
  15. Monique Fiso – 0.8%  

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