Peter Gordon at the Sugar Club
Tell us about yourself
Kia Ora, I’m Peter Gordon. I was born in Whanganui and began cooking as a child, knocking out cakes and biscuits, and helping with the family roasts. Of all the places I’ve worked over the years, I have a real soft spot for Wellington as that’s where I got my big break as a chef, cooking at the legendary Sugar Club on Vivian Street from 1986 to ‘89. It was the first time I had been completely in charge of what ended up on customers’ plates. The food and the restaurant made quite a splash, being a favourite with politicians, the film industry, top actors and the like. I moved to London in the late 1980s with the restaurant owners, Vivienne and Ashley, The Sugar Club was incarnated, opening on Notting Hill’s All Saints Road, followed by West Soho – we took the Wellington vibe with us!
These days, I have restaurants in both Auckland (The Sugar Club at the top of the Sky Tower, and tapas bar Bellota) and in London (The Providores & Tapa Room, and Kopapa). I’m a founder of Crosstown doughnuts in London (the best there are – seriously) and I also work with Air New Zealand on their Business Premier menus. Plus I’ve just finished writing my eighth book, due out in 2016.
Although I live in London, I’m back in New Zealand 5 times a year or so to keep an eye on the Auckland restaurants plus other food and wine adventures that keep me busy.
What’s your favourite Wellington experience?
From my early days of living and working in Wellington, where I also began kindergarten, I love driving out along Karaka Bay. I used to rent a house along that lovely, winding stretch of sea opposite the jetty, with pohutukawa trees and great views of the far side of the harbour.
I also love walking up Mt Victoria on a calm day, the views are sensational – but don’t hold off doing this if it’s windy, it’s probably even more atmospheric!
Te Papa is great – a treasure trove – and well worth spending a few hours checking out what’s new.
And what about memorable Welly food?
My favourite places to eat are Capitol, Logan Brown, Matterhorn and the Maranui Café – all for different reasons, but the common factor is people who love what they do and do it brilliantly.
There used to be an amazing oyster stall off Cuba Street, not sure if it’s a permanent fixture. I love the way Wellington attracts all sorts of interesting, quirky and innovative food ideas. The latest one is the food trucks that turn up in Frank Kitts Park on the waterfront in the evenings. One of them, The Fire Truck, is run by two chefs who worked for me in my London restaurant The Providores, Will Michell and Kim Eddington, so the food should be delicious – check it out!
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