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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