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Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - NEWS - In­ter­view/ Britt Mann Pho­tograp/ Pa­trick Reynolds

Matt Fitzger­ald is the owner of Madame George, a restau­rant and cock­tail bar on Auck­land’s Karanga­hape Rd. He lives in Grey Lynn with Che Bar­ring­ton, a chef, and Che’s part­ner, Olivia Orani (pic­tured), a model.

MATT/ Me and a friend of mine, Che, who’s also a restau­ra­teur, we’ve been liv­ing to­gether for a cou­ple of years. We’d been look­ing for a place, and this came up over Easter. I was the first one to see it and just got re­ally lucky. It’s the house I’ve been look­ing for for 20 years.

I was liv­ing out in Three Kings. Be­fore that, I’d al­ways lived in Grey Lynn/Pon­sonby but it just be­came too hard to find some­thing that was af­ford­able and that I liked in that area.

It’s ac­tu­ally an old shoe fac­tory. It’s two storeys; below us is a Pi­lates stu­dio, they own it. We rent the top storey. It’s a big, open liv­ing space, with two bath­rooms and show­ers. The two bed­rooms are mez­za­nine; they’re like lit­tle Swiss chalets, with the A-frame roof.

It’s a dream house. It gets all-day sun, it’s re­ally warm, it’s got sky­lights we’ll open up in sum­mer. The neigh­bours have this over­grown back­yard we want to take over and turn into a vege gar­den – it’s as big as our whole place.

Che’s mother owns an an­tique fur­ni­ture store in Nel­son, so we’ve got some re­ally nice pieces from her. Fit­ting out my restau­rant, I spent a lot of time go­ing round op-shops and Trade Me... I picked up some nice chairs and bits and pieces along the way.

I’ve got a Nick Cave por­trait a friend gave me a few years ago for my birth­day; and paint­ings I’ve done when I used to be a de­signer. We’ve got an old workman’s bench with a vice we use as a kitchen bench.

It’s great for en­ter­tain­ing. We work so much we’re hardly ever home, but of­ten on a Sun­day night – the hospo in­dus­try’s Fri­day – we all cook to­gether, and try to get peo­ple around if we can. We’ll drink lots of wine – too much wine – and cook for them. Che’s got amaz­ing home­made sauces he brings home from the restau­rants. I’d make fresh pasta, piz­zas – some­thing easy, nor­mally. There’s lots of bread and cheese. Some­times we’ll do a slow roast.

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