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Food and art collide at Small Fry, a new cafe at Te Tuhi Gallery

Food and art collide at Small Fry, a new cafe at Te Tuhi Gallery

Not even 25 years old, Ruby White has become well recognised in Auckland over the past year for the regular restaurant pop-ups she hosts under the pseudonym Miss Changy, her popularity often causing early sell-outs. But White is a woman of many talents; she also hand-makes bespoke ceramics, has collaborated with popular food delivery service Lucky Street, blogs, bakes and has style to burn.  Her interests, which began as part of her fine art practice at Elam, are now manifesting as a permanent cafe: Small Fry, at Te Tuhi – the gallery seemingly a fitting home for White and the two creative women who work alongside her.

White identifies with four nationalities, but draws much of her culinary inspiration from Kuching, Borneo. It’s an area steeped in food tradition and is most notably known for its sour, fishy, tamarind-rich Sarawak laksa. Small Fry is one of only a handful of restaurants in Auckland where you can find the dish, another notable eatery is Metro Cheap Eat Mamak Malaysian in Takapuna.

Despite the exclusivity of her laksa, a short menu of sandwiches is the focus for White. She’s experimenting with baking sourdough using a 100-year-old starter gifted by a secret friend and ex-bagel maker. He’s helped White refine her technique, too, the daily-baked bread offering a pleasing crunch to the tooth and soft, sour innards. These long, rectangle rolls are filled creatively with the likes of slow-cooked beef ribs, pickled carrot and sumac yoghurt or confit leeks with earthy mushrooms and crinkle-cut salt and vinegar chips. There are also cheese or fruit scones for the oldies.

White hopes to continue crafting dinnerware and cooking for friends on the side, but she will use Small Fry as a space to refine aspects of her service and recipes in a way that she couldn’t with her other events. “When you run a pop-up,” she says, “there’s only one night to get it right.” Here, if something goes wrong she’ll simply adapt the way she does it. Examples of this trial and error approach are best seen in the kitchen, where recipes stuck to the walls are covered in black pen lines.

Get to Small Fry before November 17 to admire Yona Lee’s In Transit (Arrival) installation, which is part of both the gallery’s lobby and the cafe’s fabric for a limited time.

Small Fry at Te Tuhi
13 Reeves Rd
Pakuranga

Cafes