Introducing The Next Crew, a select Auckland group of the youngest, most adventurous and ambitious young chefs, with one goal… To push the boundaries of cuisine as we know it.
The end of this month will herald the launch of aseries of dining events called ART: Aotearoa Raw Talent, each a surprise degustation menu which demands diners abandon their usual habits and preferences, putting their choices in the hands of the chefs.
The crew consists, at its core, of Nick Honeyman, Hayden McMillan, and Mark Southan, faces becoming rapidly familiar in Auckland’s evolving culinary scene.
The trio have all worked together at one time or another and have been on the books at some of Auckland’s finest, all with common ground under Simon Wright at the French Café.
Since then they’ve branched out to their various ventures, Honeyman as executive chef at Sale St’s Dallow’s restaurant, McMillan at TriBeca in Newmarket and Southan at Julie Christie’s new Viaduct hotspot, the Food Store.
In a scene that can be fiercely competitive at times, they have decided to band together, to create instead, an atmosphere of friendly rivalry.
“Instead of feeling like you’re competing against rivals, you’re competing against mates,” says Honeyman.
He says having likeminded allies in the food industry to call and bounce ideas around with, is invaluable. “We all want to see each other get better.”
“This is a fun way for us to push the boundaries of our cuisine outside of our usual safe surroundings.”
With a wealth of experience at some of New Zealand and Sydney’s best and even Michelin Star European restaurants behind them, the pool of knowledge and talent they have to draw on is impressive.
Other young guest chefs will be appearing alongside them at each event.
For the first, they’ve pulled on board Samuel Clark, head chef at the reputable Cable Bay and Makoto Tokuyama, owner and head chef of new Japanese fine-dining outfit Cocoro.
And to spice things up even more, they’ll be basing each dinner around a theme. The first, Deception, play with the concept that things don’t always appear, or taste, as they seem.
McMillan warns diners to expect a fair amount of “creative licence.” “It allows us to use the best produce we can get our hands on and let our imaginations run wild a little bit.”
The first ART event will run over two nights on Sunday 27th and Monday 28th of March and will be held in the Fables Rug Gallery, Foundation for the Blind Building, 8 George St, Parnell.
And at just $120 for five courses, matched wines, canapés and gastronomic cocktails, the price is sure to give other inner-city degustation menus a run for their money.