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Profile - Jan Bilton

Jan Bilton (nee Holt) is one of New Zealand’s leading food writers and food editors. For over 30 years she has syndicated a weekly food column to regional newspapers including The Northern Advocate, Bay of Plenty Times, Rotorua Daily Post, Hawke's Bay Today, Wanganui Chronicle, Wairarapa Age, Christchurch Star, Greymouth Star, the Advocate South and the Cambridge News.

Jan graduated from St Hilda’s in 1961 to pursue a Diploma in Home Science at Otago University specialising in food science and textile science. After moving from her home town of Dunedin to Auckland she embarked on a Marketing Degree at Auckland University of Technology.

In 1980, realising there was a glut of Kiwifruit and no innovative recipes to help local and international foodies, and despite reservations from local publishers, Jan self-published The New Zealand Kiwifruit Cookbook that sold over 140,000 copies and was translated into Japanese. She also published a successful Tamarillo Cookbook.

Jan has consulted to many major New Zealand companies including Hellabys, Tegel, Hansells, Zespri, LM Wright, Lion Breweries and the Pork Marketing Board. Zespri employed her to promote kiwifruit on TV and radio and to print media in the USA, Canada, Australia and Asia. From 1990 until 2006, Jan was editor of The Foodtown Magazine (now Food magazine) with an audited readership of 273,000. She was presenter of the TV programme Fresh and Fancy Fare shown in New Zealand, Australia and the USA, and presenter for Christchurch TV’s In the Kitchen.

In 2007 Jan and her husband Michael shifted to Marlborough for a quieter lifestyle. However, impressed by the bountiful food and wine of the region, they wrote, photographed and published Marlborough on the Menu that won the best Food/Wine Guide at Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards. They later published a sister book, Celebrate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Jan runs a food consultancy and publishing business together with her husband. Besides her weekly food columns, she is a food judge, food stylist, photographer, guest speaker and mentor to younger foodies. Her articles have been published in many major New Zealand magazines as well as in Australia and the USA. She is also the author of 28 cookbooks many of which have been top sellers internationally.

Two years ago Jan and Michael shifted to Cambridge to be closer to family. They have just written, photographed and produced a cookbook — Taste Waikato — a fundraiser for Cambridge Rotary showcasing the produce and the growers of the Waikato region.

Jan says, “I am so thankful for my St Hilda’s education as the friendly atmosphere and great teachers made me a more confident and rounded person.”

Find out more about Jan here:

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