From Switzerland to Christchurch: chef’s culinary journey


Chef Mirco Turtschi has a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to set up a new hotel kitchen, restaurant and cafes in Christchurch

Christchurch’s new Crowne Plaza hotel is promising to showcase the city and region’s  fresh local produce in its café, bar and restaurant.

The inner-city hotel will feature the 80-seat Market Place restaurant and bar, Café 1851 and the upmarket Social Wine Bar.

Swiss-born chef Mirco Turtschi has experience in Switzerland and New Zealand hotels and restaurants, and said it was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to set up a new hotel of this size.

His culinary journey started at age 15 with his apprenticeship in a four-star hotel in Switzerland.

He came to New Zealand 10 years later and honed his skills in Marlborough cafes before moving to Auckland’s Langham and Stamford Plaza hotels and then the Crowne Plaza Queenstown.

While he loves the simple pleasures of fresh bread, pastries and roasted coffee beans in the morning, a smallgoods platter in the afternoon or sizzling steak on the barbeque, he names his favourite dish as his aunty’s lasagne.

“We’re aiming to appeal to everyone, keeping good old-fashioned favourites that are generous in portion but reasonable in price, while offering health-conscious guests some lighter options,” Turtschi said.

Market Place takes inspiration from the markets which once thrived just metres away in Victoria Square.

The menu is still under wraps, but Turtschi said his vision was to give locals and visitors the opportunity to discover the best fresh produce the city has to offer.

“I’ve been visiting our local farmers markets each week to get inspiration for ingredients and dishes and we’re excited to be opening up our very own interactive market-inspired dining concept,” he said.

“There will be a live cooking station where guests can choose from a selection of meat, fish or seafood each evening, cooked to order just how they like it.”

In the lobby, Café 1851 is to give friends, locals and families a place to connect in a contemporary environment. The light-filled café features clean lines and Scandinavian-inspired décor.

Social Wine Bar will be the place for get-togethers and drinks over shared plates, an extensive wine list and a selection of NZ craft beers. Turtschi said the bar would be an “elegant and comfortable” space with a fireplace adding a cosy vibe.

General manager Reinier Eulink said he was honoured to be working alongside Turtschi once more, after the pair previously worked at Crowne Plaza Queenstown.

“Mirco’s strong knowledge of classical and contemporary techniques was perfect for Crowne Plaza Queenstown’s local and international guests and the feedback we received was outstanding,” he said.



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