Sun. Jun 16th, 2024


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Cover story: Angelo Georgalli

6 min read

Otago-based Angelo Georgalli

When it comes to making the most of what New Zealand’s landscape has to offer, outdoor enthusiast Angelo Georgalli has a keen eye for detail – and for crafting delicious recipes around game birds, waterfowl and freshwater fish.
It’s no surprise to learn that the well-known game chef is armed with creative ideas for transforming birds such as pukeko (yes, really), black swan and the shoveler (or spoonie) duck, as well as the more commonplace pheasant, trout, salmon and perch.

So dedicated is he to dreaming up exciting new flavour combinations, that his latest collaboration is a new cookbook; The Fish + Game Cookbook, in conjunction with Fish + Game New Zealand.

Having already been in the spotlight after launching the popular cooking show, The Game Chef, which ran in 90 countries across the world and saw him hunt game with a bow and arrow and create delicious dishes in the outdoors; the opportunity to again focus on game recipes was an immediate lure for Angelo.

Having spent more than 25 years working in kitchens and setting up restaurants across New Zealand, he is now based in Otago. When he’s not cooking or writing cookbooks, he’s out in nature – what he believes is the most important thing on this planet – doing what he does best: fishing, hunting and foraging.

Angelo Georgalli has been fly fishing for 26 years and absolutely loves it. He says the more he is out in nature, the better he feels as a human being.

“The way we treat nature as human beings, the majority take advantage of it, but there is a minority out there that really respects nature and what it has – without nature we have nothing. We can’t survive as a planet.

“It is so important that we look after nature and respect it, and not take advantage of what the planet has to offer us,” he says.

“The more I’m connected to nature, the better I feel as a human being. I feel more connected when I walk through a forest or walk by a lake than being cooped up in a house or an office.

“As we develop as human beings, we are realising how important it is to be connected with nature and be immersed in it.”

Born to an Italian mother and Greek father; Angelo says this had a huge impact on the way he looks at food. Born in Scotland, the family moved to London where he got his first taste of kitchen life.

“Dad was a chef, and mum was a great cook, so my inspiration for food definitely came from them. At 14, I left school and started working in my uncle’s Greek deli. Working at the deli had a big impact on my life. It gave me direction and a foundation with food,” he says.

When Angelo is not cooking or writing cookbooks, he’s out in nature.

Growing up in Tottenham, Angelo started coarse fishing at the River Lea at eight years old. His first rod was a piece of bamboo with a fishing line attached to the end of it with a float and hook. After saving up to buy his first fishing rod, he started fishing after school every day.

Fast forward to the shores of New Zealand, and Angelo was encouraged to head to the Tongariro River and have a go at fly fishing – with not much luck.

“It was a complete mess, my fishing line was getting caught up all the time, I just couldn’t figure it out,” he says. “It made me realise how difficult and how intense fly fishing was, especially on a river like the Tongariro.”

After going back to the UK, he bought his first fly rod and started fly fishing in a managed trout fishery.

“It took me a month to catch my first trout. It took a lot of patience – it wasn’t like I was going out once a week, I was going out at least four or five times a week because I really wanted to catch a trout. I was hungry for it,” he says.

“I got lots of tips and advice from locals, and now I’ve been fly fishing for 26 years and I love it.”

The Fish + Game Cookbook includes a swag of recipes developed around New Zealand birds and fish that Angelo hopes encourages people to try something new.

“The book includes everything from Cornish pasties to Middle Eastern rubbed salmon, it’s very diverse and gives people a lot of options. It’s not just classic dishes, there are so many variants,” he says.

The Fish + Game Cookbook includes a swag of recipes developed around New Zealand birds and fish that Angelo hopes encourages people to try something new

Many of the dishes found in the new book are unique and haven’t been done before, he says. The book, which contains 200 recipes including dips, sauces and dressings, took 12 months to produce, with a lot of trial and error.

“I experimented a lot with pukeko, duck and black swan, and got some incredible results.

“I think pukeko is very underrated and should be utilised more. A lot of hunters shoot pukeko and discard them, which is a shame. A lot of people need to be educated that you can eat black swan and pukeko. It’s about encouraging more people to go out there and not waste what they shoot, and try something different,” he says.

“Many people have tried cooking duck, or pukeko, or black swan, or even brown trout, and they fail. A lot of feedback I get is that it’s too dry, or it tastes muddy, or there’s no flavour. Some people try and cook game and fail, and then they’re too scared to try it again.

“For the recipes I’ve created in this book, I have tried and tried and tried them again, so there was a lot of trial and error. But because of that, they tend to be quite bulletproof if they are followed properly.”

He says it is important people take note of where they are getting their ingredients from.

“Good results also depend on the environment the fish or game birds are harvested from. You have to be aware of the environment you’re shooting your birds or catching your fish in because it has an impact on the end dish,” he says. “You do have to try and identify that the fish or the bird is in good condition. It’s not farmed, like a chicken or piece of pork. Sometimes you’re not going to get the best result because of that.”

Angelo says producing the book with Fish & Game New Zealand was very special.

“I’m really proud that the book was a collaboration with Fish & Game New Zealand. When you work with someone, and you just click, it’s a really special thing. And that is what happened with Fish & Game on this collaboration with this cookbook.

“We really worked well together, and the team there are just as proud as I am of this book. When you work on something and you share it, it’s so much more powerful and there’s so much more information, so much more work goes into it so the outcome is so much better.”

For more information, visit

Try this lip-smacking recipe from Angelo Georgalli, featured in The Fish + Game Cookbook

Words by Shannon Williams, photos by Richard Cosgrove for Fish & Game New Zealand

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