Peter Gordon returns home
The likes of Madonna have been turned away from its doors, now it's up to Kiwi chef Peter Gordon to carry the reputation of The Sugar Club.
London-based, New Zealand-born Gordon knows there's a lot riding on him as the owner of a 27-year-old brand.
He was head chef of The Sugar Club incarnations in Wellington, Soho and Notting Hill in the 1980s and 90s. The latter gained notoriety for refusing to turn away guests so Madonna could dine. It was full from then on.
The fine-dining restaurant officially opens on the Sky Tower's 53rd floor in Auckland on Friday.
Perched beside the Sky Tower's SkyJump and SkyWalk attractions, the 1930s art deco decor looks like it's been stolen from the set of the Great Gatsby.
The brass panels, bespoke chandeliers and Venetian ornaments are a nod to Gordon's favourite movie, I Am Love, set in Milan.
In the cocktail lounge you will find Italian wine with the New Zealand vintages.
Then there's the view across the Waitemata Harbour and Auckland.
"It's the best view from any kitchen from anywhere I've been in the world," Gordon says.
You can't complain about going to work in the top of the Sky Tower every day, but Gordon admits he is tired from the year-long project build.
"There's so much pressure," he says. "I think the pressure of this is it's the most amazing restaurant with the most amazing view and it's kind of become the talk of the town."
Not that he can't handle it, after all the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are among his past dinner guests.
Nicknamed the godfather of fusion cuisine, Gordon's signature dishes will be built on at The Sugar Club's new chapter.
Gordon's stamp is all over the menu, with the Sri Lankan dessert wattalapam, duck koftas and beef pesto among old favourites.
Head chef Neil Brazieu will manage and evolve the express lunch and small plate a la carte menus when Gordon returns to London in September.
Those attending tonight's grand opening, including musician Julia Deans and television presenter Colin Mathura-Jeffree will have the first chance to sample the wares.
"It's been 27 years," Gordon says. "And the dishes have lasted the test of time."