Kiwi celebrity chef Josh Emett insists he’ll be nothing like mouthy former boss Gordon Ramsay when opening his own Queenstown restaurant.
A judge on reality TV show MasterChef, Emett says he’s a “completely different person” to hothead Ramsay – famed for serving up abuse to his kitchen staff.
“The yelling and screaming mentality will give you nothing but trouble although I’m all about being pretty forceful in the kitchen – I don’t take any bullshit – but you’ve got to be able to build and develop a team and inspire the guys below you, not just beat them down constantly,” Emett tells Mountain Scene.
Emett is weeks away from opening his first restaurant – called Rata – with business partner and local restaurateur Fleur Caulton in the Te Nuku building beside Queenstown District Court.
The pair have been working on the concept for two years and plan to open the 80-seat, New Zealand-themed restaurant in early May.
Michelin-star chef Emett has parted ways with Ramsay, whom he worked with for 11 years.
“It just came to an end, I think,” he says.
“I was looking at different opportunities in the company and it all just came to a total end.
“I was already in the stages of looking at Queenstown, I’d been having discussions with Fleur, Gordon knew that’s exactly what I wanted to do and I was also in discussion with him about London and more global roles and it just didn’t pan out.
“Is it amicable? It just stopped and that’s it. I stopped working for him and it’s just not there anymore. I think he’s a great bloke, I do really like him and I don’t think that’ll change.”
Emett says Queenstown has always been the place he’d like to open his first restaurant.
“I love Queenstown, I think it’s a fantastic place. It’s got a lot of bars and not a huge amount of restaurants. I love the fact that it’s quite an international town and a really good-time place.”
Opening his first restaurant is a “huge deal” for him.
“It’s more important to me than opening New York or LA or the Savoy or anything like that. It’s so much more personal to me.”
Caulton, who started up popular downtown restaurant Solera Vino in 1992 and has run Amisfield for nine years, says Rata’s location suits the New York neighbourhood eatery-inspired style.
“We want to provide the very best food that we can and the best service, but we want it to be fun and relaxed.”
London-based Emett credits Caulton for her on-the-ground work in realising their shared dream.
“She lives here and understands the town so well and I love the place but really need to get used to what it’s like and what happens, what sort of people come here and what goes on. Fleur’s got the inside word.”
Emett will be predominantly based in Queenstown for the next six months.