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Lotta Love cooks for Waka Ama.

By Pauline Stewart.

Tanya Arnold is busy working in her kitchen making a great array of plant-based food for the Waka AMA paddlers, their whanau and all the sightseers who will come to enjoy this amazing national waka competition. Cooking is Tanya Arnold’s business and she loves what she does. Lotta Love is the name of her home cooked plant-based food business. When The Informer visited, Tanya was mixing a sumptuous combination of mushrooms, walnuts, onions, garlic, parsley, rosemary, chia seeds, gluten free corn chips to be the filling for her plant-based ‘sausage’ rolls, and then wrapping large spoonfuls of her mixture in gluten free pastry sheets. They looked amazing. The next feat on her cooking agenda for this BIG EVENT was chocolate and beetroot cake and then berry slice. Preparations to have her special ice cream and coffee for sale have already been made.

Tanya is not new to this work. Lotta Love is her business and the name says it all. Tanya loves to cook, and her trademark is plant-based food, nourishing and moreish – people want to keep having more. There’s the symbol of the Bee along with the name that makes the Logo. “I love the Bee,” says Tanya. “Be(e) to become is my motto for living, and my nickname when I was kid was Binny Bee,” she smiles. Tanya has a regular stall at Whiti Citi Markets but she is about to expand her business to other markets by being able to go further afield. Waka Ama on 21 and 22 April will be the launching of Tanya working and serving from her new food trailer. She is very excited as it has taken three years to achieve the necessary licences and to have the trailer built just the way she needs it as well as meeting the ‘Full Monty’ of Health and Safety requirements for her home storage and kitchen. Her food trailer is finally registered. Once Coastal Signs have placed her logo and signage on the trailer, Tania will be in ‘plant food heaven’.

Lotta Love has been a long time coming to such an exciting and fulfilling point. Tanya has been a laboratory technician; a teacher and she trained as a chef but is unable to work in restaurants and cafes. The issue is Tanya’s sight. She had her first cornea transplant when she was 16 and her adult life has meant a series of operations and the replacement of both corneas. The fast - paced work of seeing and preparing all manner of things at the same time in a busy café or restaurant is not physically possible. But making and creating plant-based delights in her own kitchen is sheer pleasure. Her practical, clever and supportive husband is among other things, the good driver of car and food trailer.

Tanya came to Whitianga from Auckland eight years ago, and it was during the first lockdown she had had a transplant on one of her eyes and was wondering what she could do with her life. “I have always loved cooking and trying new foods and learning new recipes. I knew about this woman in Bali, Chef Cynthia Louise who specialised in plant based cooking and healthy living. I liked her food very much and so I joined her online cooking classes. It began a friendship and a journey of new learning and discovery which has included going to Bali, meeting and working with her. “

Tanya is working to have Chef Cynthia Louise coming to Whitianga, perhaps later this year. “I’m so proud I got here on the limited sight I had and still have. I’m not about hardcore sell. It goes beyond that - it’s about being grateful. I’m selling my own story when people buy my plant-based food.”

Tanya is very pensive for a few seconds and adds, “When you lose a sense such as sight - I had such poor sight - I had to develop in-sight. What comes eventually is a belief in yourself, no matter what.”

Caption: When you lose a sense such as sight – I had such poor sight- I had to develop in-sight.”

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