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Where to eat in Christchurch, New Zealand: Chef Jimmy McIntyre

TIME : 2-26 17:14:52

For more than a decade, Jimmy McIntyre has been at the helm of the kitchen at acclaimed Otahuna Lodge just outside Christchurch, in New Zealand's Canterbury region. The native Canterburian's food, which utilises the lodge's abundant crops, is an integral part of stays at Otahuna. See otahuna.co.nz

WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE TABLE IN CHRISTCHURCH?

Christchurch is changing quickly after the devastating earthquake four years ago. There are now so many new restaurants and cafes popping up all over town. One of my favourites is Tequila Mockingbird, a restaurant and bar serving dishes that are Cuban-inspired. Executive chef Mark Sycamore has been my sous chef in the past and is a good friend. The style of dining really encourages share plates which I love.  See tequilamockingbird.co.nz .

THE LOCAL FOOD DISCOVERY OF THE PAST YEAR?

My new sous chef, Thomas Kluckner, is Austrian and very well-travelled. His approach to cooking is incredibly inspiring and he has a wealth of knowledge. His celeriac stock is amazing, we use fresh celeriac juice as a base for soups and purees. It's so simple but incredibly flavoursome.

 WHAT IS CHRISTCHURCH'S BEST-KEPT FOOD SECRET?

It would have to be the abundance of pop-up food trucks and containers as takeaway or temporary restaurants. These are often used by restaurateurs who lost their business after the earthquake. Many of them serve great Asian or ethnic food. 

 PLACE TO GO ON A DAY OFF?

If it's a weekend off (which is very rare) I head outdoors. I like to go biking with my family, or for a nice long walk or a trip to Orana Park.  It's a wildlife park and they are very much about conservation and the preservation of endangered species in New Zealand. Their new enclosure for three gorilla brothers (the eldest a massive silverback) is exceptional. See oranawildlifepark.co.nz

FAVOURITE INDULGENCE IN CHRISTCHURCH?

A long, leisurely lunch at Pegasus Bay Winery with friends and family. This is a family-run vineyard with a stunning lunchtime-only restaurant serving fresh, local innovative food. The staff have always impressed me.

I haven't been yet but would also love to experience Roots Restaurant in the port town of Lyttelton. They have recently won Cuisine Magazine's Restaurant of the Year for their exceptional food and service and specialise in foraging and the use of sustainable local ingredients that celebrate the seasons. I love the philosophy of both these restaurants, as it is a reflection of our own here at Otahuna. See pegasusbay.com; rootsrestaurant.co.nz.

BEST TIME TO VISIT CHRISTCHURCH?

Spring time for the daffodils and tulips or autumn for the amazing bounty we see in the gardens. At Otahuna we see delicious ripe tomatoes, porcini mushrooms, peppers and artichokes all flourishing, just to name but a few.

WHAT SHOULD A VISITOR AVOID, FOOD-WISE, IN CHRISTCHURCH?

Any food chains or fast food restaurants and eating unsustainably; in particular here in NZ, some fish and seafood due to overfishing.

WHAT'S HOT IN THE AREA RIGHT NOW?

There is a new pub in nearby Lincoln where we have just recently built our new home. It's called the Laboratory and has been made from mostly recycled materials scavenged from the earthquake demolitions and rebuilds. It has a quirky industrial feel and specialises in making and selling craft beer and some very fine pizzas. There are no TVs which appeals as there are too many bars with too many TVs, none of which are really ideal for conversation. See thelaboratory.co.nz