Leading Chefs

Leading Chefs

See world-class chefs hailing from Auckland’s thriving culinary scene and beyond

George Calombaris

Chef, Restaurateur and MasterChef Australia Co-Judge George Calombaris has achieved a huge amount in his 38 years of age. He was named in the “Top 100 Most Influential People” by The Age Melbourne Magazine, 2008, “Young Chef of the Year” 2008 & 2004 The Age Good Food Guide and was voted one of the “Top 40 Chefs of Influence in the World” by The Global Food and Wine Magazine, 2004. George pioneered modern Greek Cuisine in Melbourne and has penned six recipe books in the process. In this part of the world George is most widely known for his TV role on MasterChef Australia, and his flagship restaurant The Press Club in Melbourne. We are excited to have George at Taste of Auckland for his very first New Zealand festival appearance. You can see George in the Electrolux Taste Theatre on the Saturday afternoon or evening session.


Gareth Stewart

Many will know Gareth from his role as host on My Kitchen Rules NZ. However, one of the biggest chef roles in the country has to be looking after the Nourish Group’s 10 restaurants and this job also falls on Executive Chef Gareth Stewart. Spanning from Auckland to Queenstown and with diverse kitchens such as The Crab Shack and Jervois Steak House, Culpepper and the Princess Wharf flagship Euro, few chefs get this amount of variety (or pressure)! It can only be a varied and demanding job. See what Gareth, Head Chef Adam Ricketts and the rest of the Euro team are cooking now – they’ll be at Taste with their pop-up Euro restaurant for the full four days.


Ben Bayly

With Ben as executive Chef of The Grove it has achieved almost every award Auckland has had to offer and Ben’s dishes continue to wow the critics and fine dining fans alike. The arrival of Baduzzi was another triumph and last year Ben stepped out once again with the addition of The Grounds. TV appearances have become frequent since his My Kitchen Rules NZ days and Ben shows no signs of slowing down. Catch Ben either at the Baduzzi Restaurant marquee at the festival where his Italian inspired meatballs will surely be on the menu or on Saturday night when he takes The Grove on a field trip, to the Taste of Auckland Gourmet Hangi.

Ben bayly

Cameron Knox

Tok Tok may be just over one year old but in this time Executive Chef Cameron Knox has become something of a legend to it’s customers. Frequent trips to South East Asia ensure that each new dish is as fiery and exciting as the last. Tok Tok must be the busiest restaurant in Takapuna and having won “Best Dish” at Taste of Auckland in 2016, Cameron and the team are heading back with to wow festival visitors for the full 4 days. You can also catch Cameron on stage in the Electrolux Taste Theatre where you can learn how to serve food that packs a punch!

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Murray Wiblin

Murray Wiblin has held numerous top positions in the Auckland restaurant scene including opening of the 5 Star Westin Hotel kitchen, and more recently at the helm of multiple restaurants in Britomart. A talented chef with a grasp of many cuisines, Murray won accolades when overseeing fine Japanese restaurant Ebisu and is now at the helm of the kitchen at Ponsonby newcomer Vodka Room. Think Russian inspired food, that pairs perfectly to varieties of vodka (and yes Murray raves about the upstairs karaoke rooms too). Try something different at the Vodka Room kitchen at Taste and meet this legend in the process.


Lek Trirattanavatin

Growing up in Northern Thailand and hailing from four generations of chefs, it seems Lek Trirattanavatin was destined to open a restaurant that speaks straight from the heart. Lek trained first with his father in Bankok, then at The Royal Thai Cooking School, before eventually making his way to famous Auckland restaurant Cafe Hanoi. The authenticity of Lek’s Northern Thai cuisine is what has made Lek such a strong name in our food scene and the Ponsonby outlet has won over a solid regular customer base. For the first time, Lek will appear at Taste of Auckland leading the Saan restaurant team.


Ryan Clarke

Ryan has been in hospitality for 15 years, starting as a dishwasher, working in bars and cafés to now running his own restaurants Miss Moonshines and Gypsy Caravan with wife Annelise. The pair first fell in love with American style barbecue during a visit to the United States as well as sampling great barbecue from street food vendors in London. The long cooking process of cooking over fire appealed to them but incorporating New Zealand’s own distinct flavours into the meat has become integral. When Pit Boss Ryan can’t be found hosting guests in Ponsonby he’ll most likely be setting up a smoker, fire or BBQ at an event somewhere around the country cooking the way he knows best. Miss Moonshines will be back at Taste of Auckland for the second time and Ryan promises their dishes will go well washed down with a good cold beer from Brew Street. 

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Simon Gault 

One of the leading lights in New Zealand’s culinary scene, Simon Gault is a chef and restauranteur who has worked in the restaurant scene both in New Zealand and internationally – including Leiths restaurant in London and Michelin-starred Thornbury Castle. His many talents have been recognized by the industry over the years and when he’s not down at Giraffe restaurant on Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour where he’s Head Chef, Simon is sharing his boundless enthusiasm for food through his documentary series Why Are We Fat and managing his online fine food company, Sous Chef. You will catch Sous Chef exhibiting their artisanal products at the festival and Simon on stage in the Electrolux Taste Theatre.

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