Home' Hospitality Business : HB NOV 2015 Contents 14 | November 2015 | Hospitality BUSINESS
40 Hastings Street
Ph: 06 834 4309
With the opening of James Beck’s Bistronomy
restaurant in Napier, New Zealand’s seaside Art
Deco capital really is now on the gastronomy
trail. And located arguably in the country’s
leading food and wine province, the future’s
certainly looking sunny.
Beck thought he had created the name
Bistronomy but a Google search revealed the
concept has been around for 20 years or so, “It
sits very well with what we are trying to achieve
though so I was happy to keep it,” says Beck.
A combo of bistro and gastronomy, the term was coined
when the French economy hit the doldrums and chefs devised a
more economical, accessible cuisine. And for the Hawke’s Bay
Bistronomy team Beck says, “It’s about being fun, casual and
taking the stiffness out of fine dining while still paying attention to
great quality food and service.”
That mood is something Beck wants coming through every
aspect of the restaurant – the decor, the service and the food.
“The menu draws on my experience in a number of fine dining
restaurants in Europe and blends the techniques learnt there with
local product in a fun and interesting way.”
And those fine dining restaurants were likely some of the best
in the world: El Poblet by Quique Dacosta in Denia, Spain took
off when El Bulli closed and made 39 on the World’s 50 Best
Restaurants list this year; the two Michelin-starred Pastorale in
Antwerp; and Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in London.
Beck says the first two were very informative, “At Pastorale
I worked under a passionate chef who was constantly striving
to improve his food and challenging me to be a part of that. At
El Poblet I was part of a highly technique-driven and advanced
kitchen and learnt a great deal about modern cooking techniques
The Fat Duck wasn’t such a high flyer and
spending several weeks there he saw Heston once,
“It was interesting and confirmed techniques and
ideas I had tried before but the nature of Heston’s
food at that time was very scientific and controlled
– it wasn’t the most exciting place to work.”
Returning to New Zealand in 2008, Beck set
up Taste Cornucopia in Hastings. The organic
café operated for five years and became so
many people’s must-get-to venue. Sadly for
many but Napier’s gain James and Amber sold
Cornucopia at the end of last year, giving the
pair breathing space to plan Bistronomy.
One idea for their new venture they picked
up when in Melbourne recently was the ‘eat
bar’, which Beck says is a great way for one,
two or three guests to eat and socialise with the bartender, while
learning more of the Bistronomy story.
Beck was born in the UK, trained at AIT in Auckland and started
cooking on Ponsonby Road, “But it wasn’t until I left for Europe
and particularly found work in Belgium that I really got inspired to
learn about food.”
That drive to learn remains through his involvement with
ConversatioNZ, an initiative by Giulio Sturla (from award-winning
Roots restaurant in Lyttleton), and industry peers, which is focused
on establishing what it is to be a chef in New Zealand, how they can
define New Zealand’s cuisine, and then sell it to the world.
“If you look at some of the more recent great cuisine trends
(Spain and the Nordic movement) they have not grown in a vacuum.
In both of these countries chefs learn and develop by meeting and
sharing ideas on a regular basis. There is not as much secrecy as
has been prevalent in other cuisines such as the French.”
With New Zealand chefs on the threshold of claiming a place
on the international stage, it’s an exciting time and looking
forward Beck sees the challenges for the industry being around
availability and sustainability of products, “More and more chefs
are looking to diverse cuts and species in order to keep their
menus current and affordable,” he says.
ON THE MENU
Cured venison Tartar, with
sour cherries, radish and
Chef James Beck and partner
Amber Linter-Cole: with the opening
of Bistronomy, the centre of
Napier is becoming more and more
a foodie destination.
Links Archive HB OCT 2015 HB DEC 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page