For­ever fresh

NZ Life & Leisure - - Destination/ Stewart Island -

Deanne and Chris Sara may not have started their Ste­wart Is­land ad­ven­ture to­gether, but since 2012 they’ve been cook­ing up a storm from their restau­rant, Church Hill, on top of the bay. Chef Deanne bought the early-1900s hol­i­day home in 1999 but it took more than a decade (and meet­ing Chris) be­fore her dream of run­ning a restau­rant be­came a pos­si­bil­ity. “We’d been go­ing back and for­ward be­tween the is­land and Christchurch be­fore de­cid­ing to take it on to­gether. We bought an old van, packed our lives up and moved down. Noth­ing else mat­tered – we were to­gether, start­ing an ad­ven­ture and we would make it work.”

And they have. Hon­our­ing home-grown and home­made in­gre­di­ents is the key. Blue cod, mut­ton­bird (tītī), white­bait, green-lipped mus­sels, salmon and pāua – if it’s in sea­son, it’s prob­a­bly on the menu. “The pro­duce here is fan­tas­tic,” says Chris, “and buy­ing lo­cal means we can make the most of it.”

Church Hill Bou­tique Lodge & Restau­rant reopens on 22 Septem­ber this sea­son and now of­fers ac­com­mo­da­tion. The restau­rant is open for din­ner only and book­ings are es­sen­tial, 36 Kamahi Road, Oban, (03) 219 1123, church­

Deanne and Chris Sara

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