In August, the city of Auckland will show off its culinary delights for Auckland Restaurant Month, a whirlwind lineup of special menus and foodie events at restaurants and venues all around the City of Sails. From the official launch party to street food markets, wine tastings and demonstrations by visiting international chefs, this special event provides the perfect opportunity to wine and dine your way around the “Big Little City” on New Zealand’s North Island. We’ve plucked out three of the most tantalizing activities to start your restaurant month planning; the rest is up to you.
Official Launch Party
This year’s launch party, scheduled for July 31 at the ASB Theatre, promises to take guests behind the curtain (or, in this case, the kitchen door) of the Auckland dining scene. Hosted by local DJs The Sweet Mix Kids, each ticket includes a creative feast designed by chefs from some of the city’s best restaurants. This year’s lineup includes the likes of Mark Southon of The Foodstore, who will prepare maple smoked duck breast; Alex Strobach of O’Connell Street Bistro, who will supply a smoked leak and potato soup with butter poached crayfish and slow cooked fennel; chef Nick Honeyman of Everybody’s Izakaya, bearing beef tataki with shallots, ginger, truffle and yuzu; and Brian Campbell of Milse with tasty gelato sticks. Beer and wine pairings are also covered with ticket purchase. Last year’s event sold out, so secure tickets before getting to the venue.
International Chef Dining Series
Throughout the month, a selection of the world’s best chefs will fly to Auckland to share their culinary flair with local eateries on three different nights.
First up will be Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz, the gentlemen named this year’s “Best Chefs in Sydney” by the Sydney Morning Herald for the creative Argentinian barbecue that they serve at their restaurant, Porteno. The duo will bring their slow-cooking style to Vivace Restaurant & Bar on August 7.
Later in the month, the sleek dining hotspot Clooney will host a culinary combo of two highly acclaimed kitchen masters: Clooney’s award-winning head chef, Des Harris will be joined by Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen in Cape Town, South Africa. And although their menu has yet to be released, guests can expect a meal unlike any other when the two gourmands team up on August 14. Tickets include wine pairings at this communal dining event.
Recognized around the culinary globe for his prowess in Thai cooking, Andy Ricker brings his expertise (which helped make his Pok Pok restaurants in Portland and New York City a hit) to Auckland on August 28 at Everybody’s Izakaya. Ricker, a James Beard Foundation award winner for Best Chef, Northwest in 2011, will team up with Everybody’s Honeyman to present their collective take on Thai cuisine in a family-style dinner.
Wine Makers’ Dinner
New Zealand wine is something you should certainly treat your palate to when visiting Auckland. During this four-course dinner on August 14, expert winemaker Brent Maris will direct diners through a selection of labels from the Marisco Vineyard Kings Series and a menu crafted by chef Shane Yardley of Fish Restaurant at Hilton Auckland. This is an exclusive opportunity to try sustainably caught seafood while also sampling the finest Kiwi grapes and produce.
Photos Courtesy of Lemongrass Productions