A Christchurch chef unable to work in his earthquake-damaged restaurant has won a top New Zealand culinary competition.

Darren Wright, head chef at the Carlton Butchery on Victoria St, teamed with Gareth Evans, of Huntley Lodge, to win the regional team challenge at the New Zealand Culinary Fare in Auckland.

The duo won a three-hour challenge where they cooked an entree, main and dessert for six people. The top teams were separated by a point.

Wright and Evans’ teamwork stemmed from when Evans was sous chef at Wright’s Akaroa restaurant, Harbour 51.

However, Wright had done little cooking since the restaurant that he and wife Leanne co-own with her aunt and uncle, Linda and Graham Bellaney, was damaged in the September quake.

The Wrights, who owned Harbour 51 for 10 years, had not yet opened the Carlton Butchery’s doors when the quake struck.

Leanne Wright said yesterday they planned to open this year.

“It was obviously meant to be, and we’ve been pretty positive about the whole thing,” she said.

The new building would be “bulletproof”, she said.

“[The builders] were trying to [open] for Cup Week, but I think that’s a little bit ambitious.

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