Kiwi Chef Hayden McMillan is sure to be celebrating as he leads the cooking team at the Waiheke Island Yacht Club at the America’s Cup racing in San Francisco.

Hayden has developed a New Zealand-inspired menu of kiwiana goodness for yachties and their supporters, friends, family and fans all in San Fran for all the America’s Cup racing. The pop-up Restaurant & Bar is housed in the historical Pier 29 on the Embarcadero, part of San Francisco’s beautiful North Beach district and at the heart of this years 2013 America’s Cup. The idea for the kiwiana cuisine restaurant came from two Auckland lads about town – Clooney owner Tony Stewart and Moa beer and 42 Below Vodka entrepreneur Geoff Ross.

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On the Waiheke Island Yacht Club NZ-inspired menu is:

Coromandel Oysters – New Zealand, full bodied, creamy, medium brine & tropical notes – from the Raw Bar.

Entree choices of Pacific Style Fish Ceviche, wasabi sorbet, cucumber, lime & coriander. Or perhaps some NZ Venison? Then Hawkes Bay Cervena Tartare, oyster, radish & fresh horseradish.

Mains offered are:  Mt Cook Alpine Salmon, eggplant, coconut, arugula emulsion & roe. Smoked Duck Breast, liver parfait, apricot, plum, hazelnuts & brown butter. Free Range Pork, paua & kombu broth, potato, pickled daikon & watercress. Silere Merino Lamb Rump, charcoal, olive, parsley & feta. Line-caught Snapper, clams, saffron, vanilla & cauliflower, or Silver Fern Farms Beef Fillet, trumpets, celeriac, aged cheddar & farro.

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A good kiwi side choice might be the Mixed Beans with Anchor karengo butter & nori

Ooooh and don’t leave without a Downunder Dessert: Crunchie Bar, honeycomb, mandarin & manuka honey, or  Heilala Vanilla Parfait, strawberry, rose water & feijoa sherbet. Followed of course by some creamy kiwi cheese: New Zealand ‘Kikorangi Blue’, cranberry walnut bread, quince paste & fresh honeycomb.

But New Zealand food is not necessarily Hayden MacMillan’s fave.

“While I was in France, the executive chef of a Michelin rated restaurant I was working for, hosted us at his house for a French feast. It was amazing – it had everything from cherry glazed whole pigeons to charcoal roasted chickens and sage marinated pork rack with the most unbelievable crackling.

“The sides were mind-blowing wild asparagus with summer truffles grated over, medley of seasonal mushrooms, fresh bread from the local bake-house and a massive slab of foiegras with pickles and chutney to top it all off – and I can’t forget about the amazing local wine,” Hayden says.

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But talking about his San Francisco experience so far, Waiheke Island Yacht Club Hayden MacMillan is pretty happy:

Why did you move to the city?

I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to head up a pop-up restaurant for six months for the America’s Cup.

What do you do there?

I’m the head chef of the Waiheke Island Yacht Club, a New Zealand-inspired restaurant situated in the America’s Cup village on The Embarcadero in San Francisco.

What do you like or dislike about it?

I love the city! It has so much to do – there is always something happening, always little places and parks to explore and you have the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge which is just so majestic! The only downside is the fog, which likes to hide the city’s beauty at times.

How does the cost of living compare to New Zealand?

The rent is WAY more expensive in San Francisco itself but as soon as you’re over the bridge it settles down. Food is cheaper and the local Bay Area produce is so much better than what New Zealand has to offer.

What do you do on weekends?

Weekends are the restaurant’s busiest times so I’m never off. But on the days I do have off I like to explore all the different districts in San Fran. You have the Mission which is funky as; Castro, the rainbow nation; Haight, full of hippies; Golden Gate park; and Fisherman’s wharf. Also I’m eating at as many different places as possible.

What do you think of the food?

The food scene is amazing! Mexican and Italian everywhere. American diners and burger joints are even super good. The restaurant scene is booming and you have the best picks from Michelin star restaurants to little hidden gems in China Town. I’ve eaten at Commonwealth in the Mission and I thought that was like a casual version of Auckland’s Merediths. It’s my favourite so far.

What’s the best way to get around?

Taxis! Public transport is OK but a lot of strikes happen so it’s never consistent.

What’s the shopping like?

Shopping is amazing! Especially off Market St and around Union Square. A new Converse store opened where you can have your Chucks custom designed on the spot.

What’s the nightlife like?

The nightlife pumps! Every night of the week. Castro goes off for the dance music, the Mission has the coolest bars and there are some great pubs in North Beach.

What is your favourite part of the city?

The Tenderloin because it’s absolutely crazy. It’s in the middle of the city and the police nicknamed it so because they could fill their quota of tickets there. If you want an eye-opener, take a taxi through it, just be sure to leave the windows up, ha ha.

What time of year is best to visit?

October because it’s the warmest and there is no fog.

What’s your must-do thing for visitors?

Hire a bike and ride over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, have lunch on the water, have some tequila at a tequileria and then jump on a ferry back to the city.

What are your top tips for tourists?

Dress warm, even if you’re coming in the height of summer. In San Francisco, the city, it’s windy and freezing as soon as the sun goes down. Twenty minutes any way out of the city and it’s tropical.

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