We spend five minutes talking to New Zealand-born Peter Gordon about being a chef and entrepreneur.
You call yourself “an entrepreneur who loves to cook creatively”. What does that mean?
Fifteen years ago I would have identified myself as being a chef. Now I get as much enjoyment out of writing a book as I do creating dishes at work, or working on my range of chutneys, pies or burgers.
I do ad hoc work with many people in either an advisory way or as a working consultant. I guess that means I’m no longer simply a chef.
Why are your restaurants such a hit all over the world?
We have Europe’s largest premium New Zealand wine list, unexpected combinations on the plate and the best ingredients we can source.
Diners enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, being looked after by knowledgeable and friendly waiters, and a meal to remember.
How do you decide what will be on the menu?
I prefer to wait and see what’s best in season, what’s new and what the customers have been saying about the previous menu before changing dishes.
My head chef, Ben Mills, and I will work on a menu with our teams of chefs and my manager, Julie Woodyear-Smith, to come up with a menu that’s both challenging and comforting.
What is fusion cuisine?
Fusion cuisine is a philosophy that believes Thai fish sauce has as much right to be on a menu as polenta, cream, beef or potatoes.
For many European-style chefs, Asian and Middle Eastern ingredients are unworkable and are to be avoided. For me they are exciting.
To be told I have to stick to ingredients from one region only would be like telling a painter they could use only four colours, with no shades in between.
Most ingredients we associate with a cuisine have actually come from a different country.
Italian food often features basil and eggplant, which come from India; polenta and tomatoes, which come from Mexico; and risotto rice, which comes from Asia.
The incorporation of these ingredients is a perfect example of fusion cuisine.
What is your favourite dish at the moment?
Seared firstlight wagyu rib eye (from Hawkes Bay) with tomato, aubergine and hijiki relish and grain mustard. The meat is second to none, the compote is rich and flavourful and the mustard gives it a slight classic twist.