Australia and New Zealand have an interesting relationship: enemies at the football, friends on the movie screen, and somewhere in between when it comes to food and wine.
Australia and New Zealand have an interesting relationship: enemies at the football, friends on the movie screen, and somewhere in between when it comes to food and wine. Two years ago Tonci Barac, a New Zealand Croat with ownership interests in Australian restaurant Wildfire, decided on a Kiwi theme for the month of October. It was a major affair, with three chefs flying across the Pacific to take over the restaurant. Acclaimed chef David Griffiths, owner of Vini’s in Auckland, was among the group. He had such a profound impact that it was not long before Barac traversed the Pacific himself to convince his desired head chef to return.
It was a big commitment for Griffiths and his partner Prue Barton, requiring them to sell their business and leave their home town; a dramatic contrast from their modest 60 seater to a pumping 300 seat restaurant, from a kitchen of four to an army of 40, and from making his own snap decisions to answering to a group of owners including Barac and respected US chef Mark Miller. The shift has been daunting at times; after meeting Griffiths, Miller ordered every dish on the menu and dissected the flavours dish by dish – eating from a customer’s perspective is an important part of Miller’s food philosophy and a lesson not lost on Griffiths.... Read more.