Streamlining the council's rigmarole, supporting local community, creating plated wonders and dabbling in unrelated disciplines. There are several personalities in the Auckland food scene that branch out beyond the stovetop to make it the best it can be, and then some. To help capture some of the folk bringing to life and shaping our city's diverse food scene, we've enlisted acclaimed photographer Jeremy Toth, who comes armed with the new Samsung Galaxy S7.
As well as being entirely water and dust resistant, the device is the first 'dual pixel' smartphone camera, which means it can take crisp, clear photos – even in low light. This presents the perfect opportunity to work with Jeremy on creating a unique editorial series of photos that not only showcases the Samsung Galaxy S7's capabilities in low light, but also allows us to see some of the local restaurant scene's game changers in a completely different light.
L - R: Michael Meredith, Lisa King
Eat My Lunch
In just its first year of operation 'buy one, give one' initiative Eat My Lunch has produced more than 200,000 lunches for deserving school children. The organisation was founded by Lisa King and lauded chef Michael Meredith with an aim of reducing child poverty in New Zealand - a staggering 29 percent of New Zealand kids currently live in poverty. With an expansion to Wellington in the pipeline and generous investors in a recent crowd-funding campaign, EML is well on track to doubling their output. As well as creating positive social change one lunch at a time, Meredith also manages to keep pace with his well-oiled fine dining restaurant on Dominion Rd and has just taken on another role as chef for Air New Zealand's Business Premier service.
L - R: Will Bezerra, Renee Coulter, Petaia Unoi
No matter how busy, K'Rd institution Coco's Cantina always emits a vibe that makes diners instantly feel like regulars. Run by sisters Renee and Damaris Coulter, the eatery are strong on community and vocal about supporting fellow local businesses. In its seven years the business has provided food to the K'Rd prostitute's collective and taken the entire staff on a group excursion to Italy, all while providing an addictive and rustic take on Italian cuisine. Special mention to the meatballs and polenta chips. In the process of building a new kitchen, the pair recently met with council members to start conversation about streamlining the Auckland City Council rigmarole for fellow local businesses.
A former TV presenter and a coffee enthusiast walk into a cafe. It becomes one of the most talked about new openings of the year and the go-to weekend hangout. Connor Nestor and Charles Williams are the names behind Grafton's Ceremony. Modelled on establishments like LA's Egg Slut, the cafe pumps out brunch sandwiches that will duly kick any hangover to the curb. After less than 12 months in operation, the pair connected with food writer and chef Sam Mannering to transform Hillborough's historic Pah Homestead into a destination lunch spot and home to some of the best crumpets in Auckland. Versatility is a key element for the pair, who, rather than just let the food do the talking, have opened their doors to local artists and regularly promote music discoveries. Champions of creating a community, the pair volunteered their homeboy Patrick to take the spotlight for this shoot.
Co-owner of Orphans Kitchen, Tom Hishon is an advocate of plant-based eating, seafood sustainability and using produce as local as you can get it. Hence, his involvement in Grey Lynn's organic community garden Kelmarna and the addition of beehives on the roof of his Ponsonby restaurant - a feature that pumps out 180kgs of liquid gold per year. His bent for maximising local ingredients saw him throw a spanner in the works at Orphans Kitchen earlier this year, embarking on a month-long exploration into the world of plants using unconventional native ingredients. Think: karengo seaweed alongside slow poached eggs on spelt, kawakawa sourdough and bull kelp potato dumplings with fungi and harakeke flax seeds. The restaurant is also big on social awareness and cultural understanding through food and recently invited Myanmar refugee Naing Min to join the kitchen team.
The output of Sid Sahrawat can be described as nothing less than art. The chef, considered one of the country's most exciting, is responsible for the highly celebrated Sidart, a fine dining experience where the degustation menu evolves weekly. His most recent offering is contemporary Indian restaurant Cassia - named the Supreme Winner of this year's Metro Restaurant of the Year Awards. Instead of your commonplace curry, rice and naan, the restaurant offers mouthwatering delights like: soft shell crab with kasundi, radish and curry leaf; venison tartare with beetroot, cabbage and macadamia, and free range pork with vindaloo, apple and ginger. The most exciting new opening to come from one of Sid's protégés is nature-inspired restaurant Pasture run by Ed and Laura Verner.