Interview and photograph by Florence Noble
A chef at legendary New York restaurant Public, and founder of Flinders Lane (Connecticut), now Christopher Rendell oversees a portfolio of restaurants for Savor Group, including Seafarers and Ebisu at Britomart.
Are you from Auckland?
No, I’m Australian. Born in Adelaide, grew up in Melbourne.
How did you end up here?
I’ve been here since April. I’ve been in New York for the past 16 years and my wife is from Rotorua, so we decided to come back with our daughter to settle back here.
How was New York?
I got there in 2003. And opened up a restaurant called Public. Worked in hospitality for seven or eight years and then started my own restaurant, Flinders Lane, which we had two of. Now I’m the group executive chef at Savor Group. I look after all their sites and kitchens. So everything in the Seafarers Building, Azabu, Ebisu, Fish Markets and then we also look after Mission Bay.
Wow, what a job!
Yeah, keeps me pretty busy. Building concepts, planning and day-to-day runnings.
How do you get to Britomart?
I walk! I live in Parnell. So I walk down, it’s a nice walk down the hill, but I don’t walk home because it’s all up hill!
How did you get into doing this?
Into cooking? I started my apprenticeship in Melbourne and moved to Sydney to finish it. Then I went to London, and worked there for four years. And then New York.
Do you miss it?
No, not really no. Obviously the energy and excitement of New York is great, but doing something different is also just as valuable.
What’s your idea of fun?
Ha ha. Going out around town, checking out new places, new restaurants. Also just having people over to our place. We entertain a lot at our place. Good brunches, dinner parties… My wife sees herself as a bit of a mixologist, so she makes exciting cocktails and stuff. Entertaining, really.
Do you have any hobbies?
I used to. Being a chef, you lose your weekends a little bit. I want to get back into swimming. I’ve been swimming a bit recently which is good. It’s a good time to think as well.
Where’s your favourite place to eat around here?
I’m always swinging past Amano for a coffee and a pastry in the mornings… It’s an extra couple of laps in the pool.
What specialities do you recommend at Seafarers?
I think there’s definitely specialty for each of the places. Amazing dumplings and baos at Seven. Ostro, great seafood.
Where’s the best place for a beverage?
The rooftop at Seven on a beautiful sunny day.
What’s something not many people know about you?
That my mother is Russian and I couldn’t speak English until I started school. That’s all gone now.
What’s your favourite thing to spend money on?
My wife would like me to say “my wife”, and my daughter. Or clothes.
Have you got your eye on anything to buy at the moment?
I’m after a couple of nice jackets.
Not just one.
What’s the most challenging thing about being a father?
Patience is the key word. No, my daughter is great! She’s a little New Yorker.