Though he’s busy running the only Kiwi restaurant in New York, Michelin-star chef Matt Lambert keeps virtually daily tabs on a small Queenstown outlet.
Lambert’s consultant chef for retailer Rodd & Gunn’s The Lodge Bar, which opened last August, and last week made a fleeting visit to launch its summer menu.
“I love coming down here,” he tells Mountain Scene
“I’d love to have a place here – Queenstown’s one of the most beautiful places on earth.
“My wife loves it, too.”
The Kiwi chef was first lured to New York after meeting his American wife-to-be more than 10 years ago.
In 2013, he co-opened The Musket Room, which became the fastest recipient of a Michelin star.
“I’ve been working with Rodd & Gunn since we opened,” he says.
“We have Rodd & Gunn uniforms because obviously The Musket Room [brand] ties in pretty easily with Rodd & Gunn, and then, being from NZ, I try to represent NZ the best I can in New York City.”
Though he’s from West Auckland, Lambert says “every time I’ve been in NZ since I moved to America, I’ve come back to the South Island”.
“It’s become for me the actual ideal of what NZ ought to be.”
Lambert uses some of his Manhattan recipes at The Lodge Bar – “but you have to make a few adjustments ‘cos things taste a lot different here”.
He says his main focus at his Queenstown outlet is turning it into one of NZ’s only raw restaurants.
“The focus is on amazing raw products from an amazing country – sometimes we don’t take the time to really just appreciate the fact that some of the things we have here are the best in the world.”
Those raw products include oysters and clams, and venison from Cardrona, along with cheese and cured meats.
Asked about United States politics, Lambert says he won quite a few bets on Donald Trump winning the presidency.
“I saw that coming the year before – it’s the most American thing I’ve ever seen.
“George Bush was president for two terms – how was it not feasible that Donald Trump could win?”
Not that he’s a Trump fan.
“He shouldn’t be the president, should he?
“It would be like if [broadcaster and comedian] Mikey Havoc was all of a sudden prime minister of NZ.”