Interview and photograph by Florence Noble.
As owner of French eatery L’Assiette (soon to be La Petite Fourchette), Romain is predictably raising his kids to be petits gourmets.
Are you from Auckland?
I’m originally from Brittany, Pornichet , a small town by the beach.
So how did you end up here?
Because I met my wife Natalie. We met in France 14 years ago during the ski season. We worked together in a pizza place. They hired her because she spoke English and me because I speak French. We couldn’t speak to each other!
What do you do here?
We look after customers and staff. Try to keep everyone happy. We own La Fourchette and La Petite Fourchette, and L’Assiette, which is soon to be La Petite Fourchette also. We’re changing it. We’ve been here eight years and this is a refresh. We’re doing it up with a brand new floor, brand new cabinetry. We’ll have a lot more takeaway things and baking. The decor will be a bit more classic French.
How long will this take?
We’ll be closed for hopefully two weeks only. Back open on the 9th September. We’re being optimistic! We’ll do a little event when it opens again, a week after.
How did you get into it?
I pretty much have always worked in hospo. For 17 years. I was mostly in the kitchen, then I moved to the floor because I knew I wanted to open something, so I wanted to know how it worked.
What’s your idea of fun?
Ha. I think a good time with good people. Friends. Card games. Pétanque. Not for a while though. We need to get back into it. Yes, pétanque with good company is fun.
Whats your favourite thing to spend money on?
Gadgets… Like smart watches. Everything you might not use very often, but it’s good to have.
Have you got your eye on any at the moment?
Not that I can think of. I got a Nintendo classic. The old version of it. It’s very cool. I play with my kid. The old version of Mario. I used to play it a lot when I was a kid and I’m playing it again with my kid. I’m not really into the new games. I have a Playstation and I never play. I like old games.
Where’s your favourite place to eat around here?
I think my favourite might be Cafe Hanoi. And for a quick lunch I like Smart Sushi. I mostly eat here though!
Where’s the best place for a beverage?
I like Orleans or Racket. I like being outside.
What would you say is your speciality here?
Probably homemade hash potato with poached eggs and bacon or salmon. And the pain perdu.
What’s your favourite thing to eat here?
I would go for an omelette with cured salmon and goats cheese. We don’t have it on the menu, but we have it on special sometimes.
What’s something not many people know about you?
I’m French. Ha ha.
Do you get spoilt on Father’s Day?
Sometimes. We usually do something. Go to a restaurant or get a little present.
What would you like for Father’s Day?
I would be happy to go out somewhere with the kids. Or a gadget!
Is it awesome to be a father?
Yes definitely. Definitely good times. Some not so good. But definitely mostly good.
What are more challenging moments then?
Bath time is always challenging. Our little girl hates having her hair washed. But it’s getting easier.
And the best times?
After the bath! And when they go to school! No. when we are having fun and together. They love eating. They love Japanese. They’re pretty good with what they eat. Although they’re quite fussy. Our son is quite gourmet now. It’s the problem with having eaten at nice restaurants and here, they won’t eat anything fried. He likes sashimi and fish! He won’t go to McDonalds!