New Zealand’s most populous city sprawls across an isthmus between two harbours, its downtown commercial district perched on the waterfront of the Waitematā, a spiky cluster of skyscrapers and sails. Auckland is home to the largest Polynesian population – and one of the most culturally diverse populations – in the world, and its refreshingly unique food culture is heavily inspired by this multiculturalism, along with the region’s fertile volcanic soils and its bounty of seafood.
As founding chef of a number of Auckland restaurants over the past few decades, including The Sugar Club, which remains at the top of the city’s Sky Tower, internationally acclaimed chef Peter Gordon has long been associated with the cutting edge of the city’s culinary scene. And after more than 30 years based in London, his restaurants building his reputation as the “godfather of fusion cooking“, Gordon returned to Auckland in 2020 to create something he’d long yearned for: a “food embassy for Aotearoa [New Zealand] and the Pacific”.
Gordon has Scottish and Māori ancestry (Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāi Tahu are his tribal affiliations), and Homeland – his restaurant, cooking school and artisan food store – is a vehicle to showcase the Māori concept of manaākitanga – hospitality, generosity, compassion – via the sharing of food and the preparation that goes into it. Gordon has a nose for finding delicious and innovative food that’s demonstrative of the city’s cultural and geographical landscape. Here, he shares some of his top picks.
Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world and boasts Māori culinary history stretching back at least 700 years. How do those elements influence the city’s food scene?
As a youth, I’d travel to Auckland for the school holidays and back then, there wasn’t anything Pacific-influenced about the food. More recently you might find [Pacific] Island food at the weekend produce markets at Otara and Avondale, but it was kind of seen as only for Pacific people.