Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - THE GRILL -

At the turn of the mil­len­nium, Marc de Passorio was cook­ing for Vladimir Putin in the Krem­lin. This month, the Miche­lin-starred chef has set up shop in Auck­land.

The 50-year-old French­man fell for New Zealand’s charms six years ago, on a visit to help open Wanaka’s Bistro Gen­til. Three weeks be­fore this in­ter­view, Chef Marc re­lo­cated per­ma­nently to the Land of the Long White Cloud. His wife and two daugh­ters, aged 8 and 12, were en route.

An open kitchen crafted from white mar­ble and gold chrome at Har­bour So­ci­ety restau­rant, on the 15th floor of Auck­land’s newly opened ho­tel SO/, is de Passorio’s new stomp­ing ground. The din­ing room, which seats 95, over­looks bright lights of Brit­o­mart on one side, the har­bour and high rises on oth­ers.

The chef’s menu is un­apolo­get­i­cally French, with global in­flu­ences, mak­ing use of New Zealand’s favourite pro­duce ac­cord­ing to the sea­sons. Our sal­mon, he says, is “fan­tas­tique”. Cray­fish poached in vodka is among his sig­na­ture dishes. But the ef­fer­ves­cent char­ac­ter, with an eye twinkle and a chin dim­ple, ex­pects din­ing to be some­thing of a col­lab­o­ra­tion, be­tween chef and guest: “If you want some­thing, you come to dis­cuss with me,” he says, adding that kids who love cook­ing could be in for an im­promptu les­son. “Why not?” he asks, rhetor­i­cally. “What you know, you trans­mit to the next gen­er­a­tion.”

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