Federal Street is routinely a hot spot for imaginative and amazing food, thanks to hosting some of the best restaurants in the country in one narrow strip - Depot, Federal Street Deli, The Grill, Bellota, Gusto and MASU all call it their home. In a New Zealand first, the four big names behind these establishments - Al Brown, Peter Gordon, Sean Connolly and Nic Watt - are collaborating to create a four course dinner showcasing their individual styles.
Hosted in Nic Watt’s MASU, Metro Magazine’s 2014 Restaurant of the Year, the event is set to be an unforgettable experience. We caught up with the chefs to find out what the evening meant to them.
Your individual styles are very distinctive. How would you describe yours?
Al: Produce driven, generous and uncomplicated.
Sean: Food that uses classic French techniques.
Peter: I’d say my food is Culinary Fusion, lots of flavours and textures, full-on on the tongue and great for the tastebuds
Nic: Upbeat - my restaurant is a place you can laugh out loud. Food wise, it's about perfection and dedication to flavour.
You're all going to be cooking at Masu (by Nic Watt) - will you be making the most of its unique elements, like the Robata grill?
Al: I’m currently developing a dish for the night using Crayfish Tail and Karengo seaweed, it's pan fried, so no Robata grill for me, unless I use it as a plate warmer!
Sean: No, 'Robata' sounds exciting - but hey - it's a BBQ right? Cooking on flames - none of us are strangers to cooking over open fire. We love it!
Peter: Yes - Nic has said he’ll get his team to help make sure our grilled venison is cooked to perfection. A new grill (or even a new oven) can take some getting used to and we want to make sure our food will be as it should be on the night.
Nic: I'm excited about the robata being showcased. I have given this pleasure to Pete for his Venison…
What has provided the inspiration for your Taste of Federal Street dish?
Al: I have a wonderful friend that harvests wild Karengo fonds on the Wairarapa coast, while her husband fishes for crayfish from the same piece of coast. 'Meat and Veg' from the same garden so to speak.
Sean: Simplicity is my inspiration.
Peter: I looked at the other dishes my mates are cooking and thought I wanted to give diners some really explosive flavours in the meat department - so the Brussels sprouts kimchi and the chocolate mole sauce will deliver that. The robata grilled venison and smoked mash will bring it all together.
Nic: MASU is creating the first course…so without giving to much away we will showcase some of the very best of New Zealand seafood….raw!
What’s something you like about one of the other restaurants you’re collaborating with?
Al: I have just always been a huge fan of anything Peter does with food. Nic and Sean are equally talented, it's just a pleasure sharing a dish on the menu that evening with the the three of them.
Sean: I like the fact that all these wonderful chefs bring great diversity to the our dining district.
Peter: I like them all, honestly. I like the fact Nic has brought his Japanese’ness to Auckland at last - it had been dream of mine for a few years.
Nic: The pleasure to create an evening with all of these guys is super! They are all so talented and unique in their hospitality styles.. there is not just one thing, but the whole event.
What are you most looking forward to about the Taste of Federal Street evening?
Al: Showcasing the diversity and different styles that each chef brings to the street.
Sean: Being back in Auckland.. I love this city!
Peter: Working with mates, collectively creating a meal celebrating the fabulous Federal Street collection of restaurants and having some good kai at the same time.
Nic: Having these great guys all in my kitchen cooking together! That will be a night to remember.
Unfortunately tickets have now sold out to this event, but there are plenty of other amazing food experiences to attend throughout Auckland Restaurant Month in the Heart of the City. For the full schedule, click here.