Californian-style Mexican fast food opens in Christchurch
Conor Kerlin, Steve Goodgame, Tyler Kerlin
26 August 2015 The champions of fresh and flavoursome food, Mexicali Fresh, opens the doors to the first South Island store today, Wednesday August 26. The Christchurch store, located at The Landing at Wigram Skies, will be the 14th branch since Mexicali Fresh’s inception in 2006.
The latest iteration will deliver on Mexicali Fresh’s ethos of healthy, fresh and delicious food made in-store each and every day, with an emphasis on using locally-sourced ingredients when possible. The fresh ingredients combined with an impressive array of drinks and restaurant atmosphere offers an experience like no other. “We’re thrilled to be able to bring the best Californian-style Mexican food to Cantabrians,” says Mexicali Fresh Co-owner Conor Kerlin. “We’ve been on the hunt for the right South Island location and franchisee for over a year, and we’ve found it. We can’t wait to finally be part of the Canterbury community.” After 10 years of serving in the Auckland police force, new franchisee, Steve Goodgame is excited to bring his family back to his hometown and kick-start the love for Mexicali Fresh in his original stomping ground. “I always knew our family would return to Christchurch and being a part of the reinvigorated marketplace in Wigram and the wider region is such a rewarding process. Now it’s time to turn on the lights, open the doors and start serving delicious California-style Mexican meals!” “We’re stoked to have Steve and his family join ours. Mexicali Fresh’s philosophy and strong family values aligned perfectly with Steve’s, it’s a fantastic partnership.” adds Kerlin.
Mexicali Fresh at The Landing at Wigram Skies Opening Hours: 10- 9pm Mon to Thursday 10 – Late Friday & Saturday
Mama's kitchen taught skills now in use at Crowne-Plaza
Giovanni Pisu new Sous Chef at Crowne Plaza Auckland in Aria Restaurant
20 August 2015 From his homeland in Sardinia, and a childhood enjoyed in his mama's kitchen Crowne-Plaza Auckland's new chef has much to share with New Zealand diners. Giovanni Pisu's culinary journey began with cooking in his mama’s kitchen from an early age and has taken him around Europe before heading to New Zealand . The Sardinian-born culinary professional has been working at Crowne Plaza Auckland’s award-winning Aria Restaurant & Bar since May this year, and has recently been appointed Sous Chef. Giovanni, 39, has yet to make his mark on the dishes currently being served, but planning, testing and tasting is currently underway for an eagerly-anticipated new summer menu. Giovanni admits though he is almost spoiled for choice when he looks back at his culinary heritage and style. “In Sardinia we eat quite traditional French-style food, with lots of pork and lamb and fish in the summer, but some of my earliest memories are of making ravioli in the kitchen with my mother and father, with ricotta and saffron, and pecorino cheese. “I was brought up cooking from a very early age, and was the rebel kid who liked to cook my own food and really enjoyed doing it,” he said. From the age of 16 he worked as a waiter at a local restaurant in his homeland, before realising his passion truly lay in the kitchen and not front of house. Taking the bull by the horns, he shaved his head as he knew the manager would send him to work in the kitchen, out of sight of customers. It was a cunning plan, which has clearly paid off. From that moment on he embarked on a long journey through the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Hungary and Switzerland, learning about a variety of cuisines, delicacies and cooking techniques. His favourite was winter seasons spent in Switzerland, working with what he describes as “some of the best chefs in Europe”, then returning to Sardinia for summer work. A life-changing trip to England came about because of a need to improve on his English. “I spoke zero English and needed to learn, so although I was already working at Head Chef level I took a job working for Jamie Oliver in Jamie’s Italian in St Albans, largely to improve my language skills. “I learned a lot in that kitchen; it’s really disciplined, nobody talks, they work really hard and the quality of the dishes is wow. “I’m Italian but he produced some great dishes which were not traditional but I loved, such as a carbonara with very small meatballs, and a lovely fish dish with banana leaves. I’d love to look at getting some similar dishes on our menu here at Crowne Plaza.” Throughout his journey he was able to explore his passion for cooking and develop his knowledge of recipes from all over the world, which he’s looking forward to bringing to Aria. “The competition in the Auckland market is very strong so I’m looking forward to making our mark with more fusion and Asian flavours as well as modern Italian, something just that little bit different. We have a great young team in the kitchen and I’m very much looking forward to it.” When cooking at home he likes to prepare Chinese, Thai and Indian dishes for himself, although his favourite ingredient is basil. Once an Italian, always an Italian. In his spare time his other passion is photography, and he’s inspired by taking pictures of his dishes. Looking ahead to the new spring menu, guests and staff can’t wait to see what Giovanni has to offer. “We’re very excited to have him in our team and believe his cooking style and inspirations will be well received,” said New Zealand Sales and Marketing Director Franck Hesse. Buon appetito Auckland!
"Salt & Batter" lifts Wellington chippie scene to new heights
19 August 2015 Restaurateur Ollie Edwards (Trade Kitchen and Edwards Jones) and fireman and local identity Greg McPhee are busy transforming the old fish and chip shop on the corner of Tamar Street and The Parade in Island Bay, Wellington into – wait for it – a new fish and chip shop - "Salt & Batter".
But it won’t be your average chippery. The partners are going for “sharp, stylish, fun and fresh”, says Ollie. And “fresh” will be the watchword. Fresh fish. Hand cut chips. Seasonal salads. “We’ll be working with Tony and John Basile’s Wellington Trawling and Rachel Taulelei’s Yellow Brick Road to source the freshest fish on the day. We’ll be bringing Trade Kitchen’s signature seasonal salads to the menu. We’ll be preparing and cooking everything fresh. Nothing frozen.” “Salt & Batter” is being fitted out to a sharp and stylish design. For customers who pop in and order on the spot, it will be a cool place to perch and wait. But they’ll also be able to order online. The partners in the new enterprise are keen foodies and friends from way back. They met when Ollie owned Edwards Jones in Miramar (now Polo) and Greg’s fire crew would drop in for afternoon coffee. The idea of doing something together has been percolating for some time. “Island Bay is the right place to be doing great things with fish. There has been a tradition of interesting food happening out here. We aim to bring a fresh note to that tradition.” The partners aim to have “Salt & Batter” open on the first day of spring: September 1.
Voting for NZ's best cafe opens
17 August 2015 Forget the flag debate; it’s time to focus on another important element of our culture and determine which is New Zealand’s best café.
Voting is now open for the fourth annual Café of the Year Awards and it’s now the public’s turn to determine which cafés go on to become finalists. With the chance to win brunch at their favourite café there’s even more reason for people to vote. Each week 10 prizes of $50 are up for grabs over the eight week voting period of the campaign. Entrants are also given the chance to win one of four Ultimate Café Road Trips with Renault. Chief Executive of Restaurant Association Marisa Bidois says café culture in New Zealand is as strong as ever and it’s great to see cafes across the country entering the competition. “New Zealanders are passionate about our café culture and have become wise about where to get the best flat white and bite to eat in town. “We spend a lot of time in our cafes whether it’s popping in for a morning coffee, sitting down to read the paper over brunch or even for business meetings. “With entries in from all corners of the country it’s now time for Kiwi’s to vote and show support for their favourite local.” Voting is easy, simply check the website at www.nzcafeoftheyear.co.nz to see a list of entrants in your region and vote via txt, Facebook or online. Public voting is open until 9 October when the votes are counted and the 72 regional finalists are shortlisted together with six regional People’s Choice finalists for the Café of the Year judging phase. One winner is selected in each of the four categories – Best Metro/CBD, Best Suburban, Best Rural and Classic Kiwi - from which the supreme winner of Café of the Year for 2016 is chosen. There is also a People’s Choice winner which is determined through the public vote As well as the glory, the supreme Café Of The Year also takes away a $40,000 editorial package in Dish Magazine, a ‘Great Cafés of Melbourne Tour’ valued at $10,000 and use of Renault Kangoo for a year. Finalists and the regional People’s Choice winners are announced on 1 November. The winner of the Supreme Award, overall People’s Choice Award as well as the regional winners are announced on 7 December. The finals judges are from The Restaurant Association of New Zealand (head judge Kerry Tyack) and event supporters are Wattie’s, Meadow Fresh, Renault and Dish Magazine. This year 703 cafés entered to try and take the title from last year’s Supreme winner, Ironic Café in Dunedin. A full list of the entrants can be found on the 2016 Café of the Year website - www.nzcafeoftheyear.co.nz.
Crystal year for O’Connell St.
7 August 2015 For the 15 year in succession Auckland dining icon O’Connell St Bistro’s wine list has earned it an Award of Excellence from the prestigious New York wine magazine Wine Spectator. The awards recognise establishments whose wine lists offer interesting selections, are appropriate to their cuisine and appeal to a wide range of wine lovers.
O’Connell St Bistro proprietor Chris Upton says; “To have gained one of these awards for 15 years in a row is great recognition for the ongoing wine buying programme we have at the bistro and the many labels that sit on our list and in our cellar.” O’Connell Street Bistro is one of only a handful of restaurants in New Zealand to have achieved any Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. To qualify the list must present complete, accurate wine information. It is for lists that deliver a well-chosen selection of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style. The O’Connell St Bistro wine list features around 290 carefully selected and cellared offerings from all the major regions and most important producers from around the world as well as iconic wines from New Zealand. And the bistro stock rarely drops below 1500 bottles. The wines are selected to ensure a wide range of choice in every style and variety with one of the most extensive half bottle selections of any restaurant in the country, says Upton. The Bistro’s house champagne is Louis Roederer, one of the largest family-owned Champagne Houses, founded in 1776 and has been synonymous with the world’s great champagnes ever since. And Upton’s favourite? “When we opened more than 17 years ago we had three bottles of ‘88 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac 1er Grand Cru ($1980). We have only one left and I am not going to reveal where the other two went.” And his best value choice? “Definitely the ’07 Bell Hill from Canterbury ($220). You would likely pay the same price for a current vintage.”
New cuisine head at Continental
Continental Executive Chef Simo Abbari
7 August 2015 Canterbury catering and hires business Continental just switched its cuisine delivery up a notch with the appointment of Simo Abbari as Executive Chef.
Highly regarded amongst foodies in Canterbury and further afield, Moroccan-born Simo brings a wealth of international cuisine and management experience to the Continental team. The energetic chef lost two Christchurch restaurants and a cooking school to the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes, possibly the best known being his signature award-winning Restaurant Simo’s at Crowne Plaza Christchurch. He has since been splitting his time between his newer New Zealand businesses – delicatessen/cafe/cooking school Mosaic by Simo Catering and a Simo’s Food brand - along with consultancy work in restaurants in Spain, Dubai and Morocco, and leading New Zealand cuisine tours to Morocco. Originally trained in classical French cuisine, Simo worked in various kitchens in Europe and North Africa (including being in charge of first class airline catering based in Tripoli) before settling in Christchurch, New Zealand to raise a family some 22 years ago. Simo then worked at the Millennium Hotel, Christchurch Parkroyal, Convention Centre and Westpac Trust Centre before opening his own ventures. Simo’s breadth of cuisine knowledge and experience in out-catering and leading kitchen teams made him the ideal Continental candidate, said managing director Greg Ward. “The fact that Simo is an expert in catering for special dietary needs was another appealing aspect to us. Simo takes great pride in designing dishes for vegetarians and vegans, as well those who require particular cultural or non-allergenic food options. There’s certainly an increase in demand for this type of tailoring from our wedding and corporate clients.” A keen advocate for organic and free-range products, Simo’s desire and ability to create healthy, tasty food has won him numerous awards such as Outstanding South Island Restaurant of the Year (2004) and Best Kitchen Team. As Continental’s Executive Chef, Simo will be overseeing the cuisine direction all Continental’s food-based activities: Event Catering (weddings, private occasions, public and sporting events, corporate catering, conferencing and tradeshows); the Alff (Allergy Free Foods) brand; day-time restaurant Kingsford Kitchen in Southbrook; The Bakery at Rangiora; and the distinctive yet different styles of Continental’s exclusive venues - Newbery Lodge, Christchurch Gondola and Christchurch Tram. Simo will also continue to offer cooking classes from Continental’s main kitchens at Southbook and hopes those who have enjoyed his cuisine over the years will sample what’s on offer at Kingsford Kitchen or join in future classes.
Curious capers cure thirst for knowledge
4 August 2015 They’re talking cured and curious at Molten in Mt Eden. The popular neighbourhood eatery’s wine bar is introducing Cured & Curious Tuesdays hosted by the resident sommeliers, winemakers and a brewmaster.
The Cured & Curious concept involves selected beverage experts hosting evening events where patrons can taste and discuss interesting aspects of a wine or a beer. Patrons will also be able to choose from around 20 different cheese and charcuterie options tailored to their preferences. “It’s designed as a fun, informative and informal evening,” says sommelier and Molten co-owner Sven Nielsen. “Wine should not and does not need to be intimidating and yet we know some people feel uncomfortable putting their hand up when they want to know more. “So we are taking the anxiety out of the process and at the same time demonstrating how wines and beer can be paired with the best charcuterie and cheeses. And it all happens in relaxed, unpretentious surroundings and at affordable prices.” Each event will be themed with delights including a charcuterie trail, Nielsen’s guide to cold meats in various territories and the wines that go well with them. Other themes planned include ‘raise a glass to the regions’, ‘fabulous French reds’ and the history behind wine and charcuterie, one of the world’s oldest pairings. Molten Wine Bar has an extensive wine list with several hundred varieties available by bottle and more than a dozen by glass. The wine list is fundamentally based on value for money and is rotated regularly. To assist imparting the wine literacy, Molten has appointed Swedish-born Adam Wirdahl as somm alongside Nielsen. Nielsen says Wirdahl brings to the restaurant a diverse career in the hospitality industry. “Adam has more than 20 years’ experience backed by a Swedish sommelier qualification from (Vinkällan Dryckesutbildningar) where he went from student to later become a teacher. “He has also worked the floor at Merediths in Auckland and other establishments internationally, managed cocktail bars, worked on cruise ships and even studied sports journalism in the US,” Nielsen says.
Helping save lives at breakfast
Van Henderson, Chief Executive, New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation with David Thackery, Franchise Manager, Robert Harris Cafes. Photo by Simon Watts BW Media Photography
3 August 2015 Breakfast was the most important meal of the day at Robert Harris Cafe, with the cafe network taking part for the second year running in the Pink Ribbon Breakfast Campaign. During the month of May, patrons of more than 40 Robert Harris Cafés across the country were able to participate in the campaign, knowing that 10% of their purchases would be donated to the charity. Last week a cheque to the value of $40,000 was generously handed over to the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation (NZBCF), where the funds will go towards research on new targeted breast cancer treatments. Each day eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer and almost every Kiwi knows someone whose life has been affected by this disease, whether it be friends or family. As many as 650 New Zealanders die of breast cancer every year. “The Robert Harris Café network has backed our Pink Ribbon Breakfasts with a phenomenal amount of support. The owners in particular, really got behind the campaign and made it a success. We are very appreciative that Robert Harris again chose to support our Pink Ribbon Breakfast campaign and grateful for their contribution of $70,000 over the last two years,” said Van Henderson, Chief Executive at the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. Andre Gargiulo, Cerebos Greggs Ltd, Country Manager said: “Breast cancer touches so many Kiwi families, including Robert Harris cafe owners, their communities and customers, and our staff, we didn’t hesitate to support this campaign again. We hope to continue our involvement with this wonderful charity for many more years to come.” To find your nearest Robert Harris Cafe, please visit www.robertharris.co.nz