Our third story in our Rotorua Proud feature focuses on a local chef and café owner whose delicious food is a Rotorua favourite.
Have a read about this very busy lady who still finds time to help others through sharing her passion for cooking.
Introducing Milani Thompson, owner and chef of Artisan Café
How long have you lived in Rotorua?
I am originally from South Africa, and moved to New Zealand 14 years ago; I’m a New Zealand citizen now. We chose to immigrate to New Zealand for a better future for our two boys. We lived in Auckland for 15 months, then Taupō for a year, and have now spent most of our time in Rotorua, 11 ½ years. We have recently bought a home in Taupō nearer to my husband’s workplace, as he has commuted for 10 years to Taupō.
What do you love most about Rotorua and why?
Rotorua has become home as we found the schooling and services offered for our two boys a better option. Rotorua is also very central and has so much to offer within a short distance. It has been great to be in business in Rotorua as everyone in business supports and encourages one another, great community spirit.
Do you have any hobbies or pastimes that take advantage of our beautiful region?
My café is my hobby [the dish above is on the Artisan menu], as cooking and baking are what I enjoy doing mostly. When my boys were younger, we enjoyed spending lots of time at the various lakes and doing different activities over the weekends.
Another pastime I do is a cooking class for one for the Rotorua U3A every second Monday. I have 12 retired folks [pictured above] ranging from 70 to 96 years old. We meet up in the café, cook up a storm and then enjoy dinner together. We have been like a little family for seven years now.
Do you have a favourite café or restaurant in Rotorua?
Atticus Finch is a firm family favourite to visit. We enjoy various dishes offered there and never leave feeling disappointed. My husband loves the chili mojito made by Sean.
When you have friends or family visit, what do you recommend they do while they’re here and why?
So much to do. We always tell them a weekend is not long enough. If they are on a budget, we send them towards the Redwoods and tell them to drive to Lake Tarawera, Blue Lake and Green Lake. We also encourage them to drive out to the mud pools near Wai-o-Tapu. Obviously a huge amount of options for our various attractions!
Those with kids we send off to Skyline. We also highly recommend Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua Canopy Tours, Volcanic Air, Redwoods Treewalk. To relax and unwind we highly recommend Waikite Valley Thermal Pools.