Interview and photograph by Florence Noble
As a duty manager at the rooftop hot-spot Seven at Seafarers, Isla Malitte-Davey is all about making sure her guests go home with a smile on their faces.
Are you from Auckland?
I am. I grew up on the North Shore.
How do you get to Britomart?
I live in Grafton, so catch a bus or I walk.
What do you do here?
I’m the duty manager at Seven, at the top of the Seafarers building.
How did you get into doing this?
I was working part-time in hospitality when I was in high school, and then when I was studying and I decided that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I realised I was quite good at hospitality, and I enjoyed it so I’ve been here for three years, starting as a waitress and moving my way up.
What were you studying?
I’m a make-up artist. And it’s quite competitive and a little bit superficial for me. I enjoy a more relaxed environment, talking to people here rather than if I’m painting their face on. A lot of weddings. Always the mother of the bride. Always.
Were they not always happy?
No, they were always happy! It was just a little bit difficult sometimes.
What’s the best thing on the Seven menu?
One hundred percent the Popcorn Shrimp. It’s been on the menu from the beginning and it’s a staple. Everyone enjoys it and it’s flawless. All of the dumplings are good too. I like the tofu and spinach one, or the crayfish and crab with truffle oil. Fred Wong is our executive chef. He’s the exec chef of Ebisu as well.
Have you ever thought about arriving at the bottom of this building and eating your way up?
Definitely. I just don’t think I’d get very far.
What’s your favourite hidden Auckland City gem?
I spend a lot of time here. Even when I’m not working. I think it’s definitely a hidden spot. We still have people arriving who had no idea that we existed and they come up and see the view and are like, ‘Whoa!’ And we have really cool late-night parties on Friday and Saturdays. Great DJs. Hip-hop and Rn’B. Some old school, some new. With a bit of pop thrown in there.
What’s your idea of fun?
I work in hospitality – you can’t ask me that! I drink! I drink for fun. That sounds quite sad. No. I grew up riding horses so that’s always my escape, and my parents live up north and I go ride up there with my little brother.
Do you have any hidden talents?
My party trick is I can fit my friend’s fist in my mouth. Like, the whole fist.
Not your own fist? Why someone else’s fist??
I could probably do it if I wanted to. I don’t know, it’s an excitement thing. My friend’ll be like ‘Go!’… just thinking about this… people in Britomart don’t need to know I can put a fist in my mouth!
Where’s your favourite place to eat around here?
I’m a big fan of Mexico. I like their Sangria. And Amano.
Is there a bit of a hospo family going on around here?
Yeah, we meet outside on our breaks and hang out and chat. The hospitality area around here always has each other’s backs. So you could go to a bar and collect a bottle of tequila if your bar has run out. Everyone is really willing to help and it’s an amazing community to be a part of. You feel like you’re part of a club.
There is a members club up here isn’t there?
Not any more. It’s now Tommy’s Champagne Parlour. It’s open on Friday and Saturdays after 6.
Where’s a great place to get a drink around here?
I actually think Seven is very privileged to have a bar manager who is incredibly creative. Some of the things that he thinks about putting in a cocktails, you wouldn’t expect. We’ve got a tamarind whiskey sour. I’m not really a bourbon drinker, but it’s so good.
What’s your favourite thing to spend money on?
Shoes. I’m a shoe person. And I think it’s because no matter how fat I get, my feet don’t change size so I can always fit my shoes! Or a good Martini. Or food. I like to eat and I think food’s an experience, so I think it’s worth spending money on.
Have you got your eye on anything to buy at the moment?
I really want a World scent. Every time I walk past, I get a waft of some incredible smell. The whole street smells incredible because of World.
If you could drink one drink for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Probably a gin cocktail. Like, Aviation Gin. Or if I were to pick one from the menu, it would be the Winter Blossom: Tanqueray, St Germain, Cocchi Rosa, Fresh Lemon, Cinnamon & Ginger Syrup and Rhubarb Bitters. It’s very refreshing.