Chef shifts from Marlborough to Nelson
A chef synonymous with Marlborough is moving his influence to Nelson.
Alain Hauswirth, who has been a main player in Marlborough's hospitality industry, is to open a bistro in Nelson's Morrison Square.
Brulee, which will have a distinctly international flavour reflecting the backgrounds of its founder and the chefs he is employing, is set to open on August 1 in the space vacated by Eatalian.
It will initially be open for lunch only, but once the "engine is running smoothly", the plan is to open in the evenings also. A signature dish will be "one classical brulee", but shared platters and "food without pretence" will be mainstays.
Hauswirth described the new bistro as simply a place where people could come to enjoy food and wine.
Morrison Square centre manager Nona Jackson said attracting someone of his calibre and experience was fantastic for the precinct.
"We're confident that his team and concept will provide a further boost to the centre's reputation," she said.
Hauswirth, who is currently with Hunter's Marlborough and lives with his wife Wendy and family in the Wairau Valley, said the move to Nelson was as much a sign of his commitment to the top of the South Island as any allegiance to a particular place. He would maintain his interest with Hunter's but the new venture in Nelson would occupy most of his time.
Brulee is being set up with his close friends and Auckland-based business partners Phil and Kirsty Hardie Boys.
Hauswirth trained as a chef in his home country of Switzerland more than 30 years ago and arrived in New Zealand with just a backpack in 1989.
He discovered Picton by chance, and while not completely bewitched by its quiet hum, he knew enough to stick with it.
Le Cafe in Picton was opened in 1995, then Figaro's in Blenheim in 2005.
"When we started we thought it was interesting, but it paid off."
Hauswirth said success in the restaurant trade relied on "sticking with it" through the good and the bad.
He settled in Nelson after a restless period of thinking further afield. Auckland was an option, and while it is a busy place the costs are also higher.
"Nelson is a really vibrant place with a very diverse population."
Brulee will have Latin ballroom dancer and professional magician's assistant Joanna Burberry as its front of house manager. The Nelsonian has worked for the Suter cafe and Hopgoods.
The private chef at Orinoco luxury lodge Edenhouse and tutor at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology's hospitality school Chef Daniel Krebs will be joining Hauswirth at Brulee, along with another chef with strong experience in creating European fare.
Nelson was attractive also because of the quality of available produce, the suppliers here and the wineries. Brulee would feature Nelson and Marlborough wines on the menu, along with craft beer and juice, and Rebecca Hardie Boys' ginger beer from Wainuiomata.
"We have it all here and it's really stimulating. There are also some very good restaurants and chefs here.
"The restaurant industry is a bit like sport - if you can't compete, you can't get better."
Hauswirth said there were a lot of easier things he could be doing in life now, and despite thinking about new directions "you can't beat the trade".
"You think about exit plans, like driving a truck or picking pumpkins, but you do it for a while then think, ‘nah', the restaurant trade is good fun."
The Nelson Mail