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“Anyone feeling a little homesick can
pop in for a blast of Kiwi hospitality,
tunes and rustic grub.” The Bach Eatery
Chef Darrien Potaka
First inspired by: Dad ran a couple of pubs around
Whanganui when I was young and watching the chefs
working in the kitchen got me excited about food.
Where was your first job? At Danielle’s in Whanganui in
1990. I was 18 and I studied at Whanganui Polytechnic at the
same time. My tutor Joe Power became a mentor and is still
a friend to this day.
What came next: Pescatore at The George in Christchurch
in 1995 under Rick Rutledge Manning and when we attended
the Gourmet Summit in Cape Town I was lucky to meet Nancy
Silverton from La Brea Bakery & Campanile in Los Angeles,
and Dietmar Sawyer from Level 41 in Sydney.
Overseas experience and highlights: Dietmar offered me
work and Nancy helped me land a job with Ken Oringer at
Clio in Boston. This was definitely a highlight, as well as
several weeks at The French Laundry in Napa Valley and
cooking at the Spinazolla Benefit Dinner with legendary
American chef Daniel Boulad.
Who inspired you in the early days: Rick Rutledge Manning
and Al Brown. Love the Depot, Ugly Bagels and Baduzzi in
Auckland and Logan Brown in Wellington.
Sydney highlights prior to The Bach: Sous chef at Level
41 and executive chef at award-winning Bistro Moncur,
THE POTAKAS STORY
When the couple met in 1999, Philippa was studying Bachelor of
Hospitality Management at AUT and had just landed a three-month
job at the Sydney Mar r iott: “I was at a local hospo hang out for Expats
when I met a group of Kiwis playing pool. I joined in, and the rest as
they say is history.”
The Bach is their first combined project and so far so good, because
they’ve set boundar ies. Philippa says, “I work the restaurant floor one to
two nights a week and run the admin from home (not ideal) but The
Bach is still Dar r ien’s baby.We strike a nice balance. I have my own
interests, so we don’t get consumed with the business.”
Like many New Zealand ventures established overseas, the Kiwi
connections are strong.The couple’s fathers contributed their skills to
the start-up and fit out and fellow Kiwi expat and bar manager Paul
Tongatule, who’s worked with Dar r ien for 12 years, splits his time
behind that bar and working the restaurant floor as well.
Come Christmas time it’s compulsory for the Potakas to holiday
in New Zealand, spend time with family, go on culinary road trips to
catch up with their ‘hospo' family, keep up with what’s new in food and
beverage and seek out new product lines to sell at The Bach.
Just a few highlights from their recent trip home included a night
at Museum Hotel in Wellington where good friend Laurent Loudeac
is executive chef;Wellington Markets where they chose a whole fish
which was filleted on the spot; good friend Shaun Clouston from
Logan Brown cooking pork belly from Dar r ien's father's far med pigs;
vacuum packed and filleted Ora King Salmon which Dar r ien smoked
with manuka chips, mar inated in local honey and soy and served on Al
Brown’s mini buns; the White Swan kitchen team in Martinborough
cooking up a crayfish presented by friends to the couple; Trinity Hill
Winer y in Hawke’s Bay and Mister D’s in Napier.
Asked about opening a New Zealand venue sometime, Dar r ien
replies, “We’d need a new concept. It would be tricky opening a Kiwi-
themed restaurant back home, r ight?” I
Satisfying Kiwis’ hunger for home:
16 hour slow cooked lamb shoulder with
carrot puree and Brussels sprouts.
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