With an impressive list of award-winning restaurants, it's no surprise that some of our country's top chefs can be found in the city centre - so, for International Chef Day, we felt only right to profile them. 

Book a table at one of these restaurants to mark the occasion and treat yourself to an unforgettable meal out!

Gilt Brasserie

Combining decades of global culinary experience and a love for cosmopolitan life, Gilt is an ode to contemporary brasserie dining famous in the world's most vibrant, energetic cities from New York to Paris.


Meet Chef Josh Emett

Josh has been a chef for over 30 years and his pedigree comes with impeccable credentials, having worked in London, New York, Los Angeles and Melbourne for Gordon Ramsay. In New Zealand he became a well-known face on television as a MasterChef New Zealand judge. Gilt is the third restaurant owned and operated by the Josh & Helen Emett, alongside Onslow on Princes Street and Waiheke Island’s The Oyster Inn. The new establishment is a testament to the strength and expertise the pair have cultivated within their teams, which has allowed them to grow their thriving hospitality business.



Designed to bring joy, comfort and pleasure. Flamed, charred and smouldering from fire, alma's food style travels through seasons, produce and localities from our own neighbourhood whilst nodding to a few from afar. 

Jo Pearson

Meet Chef Jo Pearson:

Having only opened in late 2020, alma is already highly acclaimed - bringing the tastes of southern Spain to Britomart, with its name translating to 'feeds the souls, lifts the spirit'. Jo Pearson is the executive chef at alma and has just been named 'Best Chef' in the 2022 Metro Restaurant of the Year Awards! And it wasn't just Jo, alma was named the Supreme Winner, taking home the title of Best Restaurant along with Best Smart Dining (for the second year running) and Best Dish for their beef tongue with green olives and lemon. 

Jo's vast experience as an executive chef spans close to two decades and includes the setup of the ever-popular Amano. Jo says she never wanted to do anything else but cook. With her parents being third-generation Orchidists, her childhood revolved around growing produce, the seasons and the preservations of food. "I was eager to learn so when I was 15 I started as a Kitchen porter in a local cafe, 3 months later a chef resigned and I had the opportunity to step into a junior chef role...the rest is history!" 



kingi (short for kingfish) offers fresh, sustainably sourced seafood, game, and New Zealand produce in thoughtful, approachable ways. Located just steps from The Hotel Britomart lobby on the brick-lined laneway between Galway St and Customs St East, kingi is open all day and evening, for everything from early-morning coffee and classic cheese rolls, through brunch and lunch, to drinks and larger plates at night.

Uelese Mua

Meet Chef Uelese Mua:

Uelese embarked on his cooking journey at 15 years old! Being of Samoan heritage, Chef de Cuisine Uelese Mua draws from flavours and influences from the Pacific in his cooking. He also brings a wealth of experience to his role at kingi, having led the kitchens of several high-end Auckland restaurants, including Euro and Soul and a six-year stint in the kitchens of Paris and Marseille.


From Coromandel to Bluff, Onemata's menu is a celebration of New Zealand ingredients sourced from local suppliers, showcasing the finest of what Aotearoa has to offer. The menu is continuously developed to keep up with the latest seasonality and availability of local produce, ensuring every mouthful is made up of the freshest ingredients.

Rob Hope-Ede - Onemata.jpg

Meet Chef Rob Hope-Ede:

With over two decades of culinary experience, Chef Rob Hope-Ede cut his teeth in the kitchens of Euro Restaurant & Bar and Jervois Steakhouse and rose to the rank of Head Chef at Giraffe Restaurant under the direction of chef and mentor, Simon Gault. Rob's tenacity for excellence and a thirst for knowledge, has seen him travel abroad to cities such as Chicago, Barcelona, China and Italy, where he learned, refined and mastered techniques that he now performs daily through the flavours and textures of the Onemata dining room.

Ima Cuisine

Ima Cuisine has been a favourite for many city goers for the last 13 years! The delicious Eastern Mediterranean food offering here is crafted and inspired by the food Yael grew up with in Tel Aviv, Israel. "At Ima we make everything from scratch. From our sausages to our bread, to our preserves, to our cured meats. We don't buy anything for our dishes except for raw ingredients. Everything at Ima is made with love and care because we believe our customers deserve that love. We want you to feel like your Ima (mother in Hebrew) is taking care of you". 


Meet Yael Shochat:

Yael Shochat is one busy woman. A typical day will start with getting up at the crack of dawn to bake the goods that appear in Ima's cabinet every morning, before opening the doors to help with breakfast and coffee service at the busy Fort Street establishment. Next, she's heading to the local markets (mostly the Wellesley Produce Market) to source her ingredients before jumping on the phone to liaise and wrangle her other local suppliers. Dinner service hasn't even been - where she will be helping with prep before sharing the front-of-house duties which she shares with her daughter, as well as supervising the kitchen too. 

Mr. Morris

The inventive Pacific-influenced menu at Mr. Morris is all about championing hero ingredients, with the team describing it as "local, ethical and seasonal with a devotion to flavour, no matter its origin." 

Mr Morris

Image credit: Anna Kidman

Meet Chef Michael Meredith: 

Chef Michael Meredith was born in the island-nation of Samoa and grew up watching his mother cook in the markets of Apia. Although street food is far from the elegantly innovative cuisine of Meredith's and Mr Morris today, Michael still credits his mother and his Samoan upbringing for laying a foundation for his no-waste culinary philosophy. He has a unique style and a reputation as a conjurer of flavour and texture. He also believes there is innovation in simplicity – the innovation is to transform a seasonal ingredient, so it creates a cuisine that is simple and pure.

The menu at Mr Morris is less technique-driven than his previous restaurant Meredith's. Avid foodies will remember the much-lauded recognition Meredith's received for redefining New Zealand cuisine as well as its numerous accolades received over a decade in operation.

MASU by Nic Watt

Japanese food is celebrated on Federal Street with MASU, a Japanese robata restaurant and bar in the Federal Dining Precinct. Diners can view the chefs at the robata cooking hearth, creating food-laden skewers and slowly rotating them over hot coals.

Nic Watt

Meet Chef Nic Watt:

"Restaurant life is a passion for flavour and a dedication to detail" says chef and restaurateur Nic Watt of MASU. 

After graduating as a chef, Nic spent time in Japan where his love for the cuisine and its traditions began. He has since amassed a wealth of experience in a highly revered career, particularly in Japanese robata restaurants the likes of Michelin starred Nobu, and London's award-winning Roka. Following his return to New Zealand, Nic Watt opened MASU and introduced a contemporary take on traditional Japanese robata cooking to the local dining scene. His culinary philosophy is simple – each dish is a standout on its own and still a perfect complement to the other dishes on the menu. 


QT Auckland's signature restaurant, Esther brings the authentic tastes of the Mediterranean's sun-soaked shores to the Viaduct. Esther's menu is inspired by Chef Sean Connolly's travels chasing food of the sun, using flavours and spices from Sicily to Southern France to Morocco. The approachable and sustainable menu features local produce and daily-caught seafood, with many items served by trolley service - think tableside salt-crusted fish, salads and desserts.

Sean Connolly

Sean Connolly

Meet Chef Sean Connolly:

Esther, named after Sean's grandmother, who is one of the greatest influences on his career and approach to food, is centred around simplicity and maintaining the authentic integrity of the Mediterranean region.
Sean Connolly is a creative, a businessman and an affable geezer (as he calls himself), and his culinary experience spans across the globe. He has worked in high-profile restaurants in Sydney, Adelaide, Dubai and of course, Auckland. He is an award-winning chef with numerous awards and Chefs' Hats under his belt and a TV personality.


Last updated: 20 October 2023