C'est délicieux! Is how we describe South African born, Nick Honeyman’s French cuisine with a Kiwi twist. Owner of Auckland’s Number One restaurant on TripAdvisor**, Nick is warm, reflective, precise and honest. He combines knowledge and artistic flair to invent interesting and new, with the very best in fresh and local produce.
Trained as a chef in Australia, Nick moved to France where he worked at Michelin-starred restaurants, absorbing everything French cuisine and culture-related. Moving to NZ, Nick worked as an executive chef at several high-level restaurants before opening Paris Butter, which has been listed in Metro magazine’s Top 50 Restaurants, and most recently by social blogger Zoe Bowker’s Worlds50best restaurants. He’s also hosted his TV show, The Best of New Zealand with Nick Honeyman.
The Paris Butter kitchen is Nick’s playground. Light on his feet, Nick is a superstar hungry to just be - for his personal growth, for his customers, for his employees, for his wife, Sina, and for their beautiful daughter.
Nick’s relationship with Sina became a balm for his insatiable drive to meet his own unrealistic standards. A huge weight left his shoulders when they met. Young and driven Nick gave way to calm and content. She questioned everything... a string of why, how, when? In his kitchen, he never listened to anybody, but with her, he had to. This methodology has been “an absolute game changer.”
Fatherhood is Nick’s passion. It excites him, it’s about growing, and about having to be in new ways for another significant person. It’s even changing his cooking. Nick is still incredibly driven, however, now it’s intensely focussed on giving to others and learning from them in return.
Escaping the ‘old system’ of the restaurant world has been a transition. The 16-hour shifts, projecting your stress onto others, not getting paid what you’re worth were industry traps Nick was determined to deconstruct. Things are different in Nick’s restaurants. The whole team only works five nights, so they can socialise and have lives.
Once a week the whole team does a workout with Commonwealth Games gymnast Mark Holyoake. The focus is on movement and posture - this helps in front-of-house, behind the bar and in the kitchen and keeps the team well. There’s also the ‘Saturday Night Project’ where the kitchen presents a dish and the bar presents a drink. The team has a week to prepare an original creation or a remix.
He surrounds himself “with awesome people.” He accepts you can’t succeed by doing it alone. “You can’t,” he repeats. This is the first year in which his staff all want his job; some people call that effective modelling, others call that leadership. Nick embraces his team’s ideas and has an incredible sous chef who is managing half the menu and is halfway to replacing Nick as head chef.
Three months of every year, Nick and Sina travel to Dordogne in the south of France to open French restaurant Le Petit Léon, boasting fine dining with a rustic French flair. Nick is a solar panel who needs sunshine to replenish. His favourite sunshine is in France, amongst the eye-level sunflowers in the fields next to his restaurant. He is open to a world pouring inspiration into his soul which he turns into the exquisite and the sublime on a plate, into creative fun with his staff, and into the string of savoured moments with Sina.
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