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Metro x SkyCity: We talk to chef Ryan Allen from The Grill

Chef Ryan Allen on why it’s important to support local

Metro x SkyCity: We talk to chef Ryan Allen from The Grill

Jul 19, 2021 Restaurants

The first thing you notice on The Grill’s menu is that it’s littered with provenance. The Wagyu Bresaola is from A Lady Butcher (aka Hannah Childs, a charcuterie artisan based in Auckland); clams are from Cloudy Bay; spring chicken is from Canter Valley in rural Rangiora. Then your eyes head to the Butchers Block list, where diners are plainly told exactly where that meat comes from, whether that’s a sirloin from Awhi Farms in Mt Ruapehu or Coastal Spring lamb from the North Island. “About 80-90% of our menu is local,” Ryan Allen, the head chef, tells us.

We had a chat with Head Chef Ryan to delve a little deeper into the produce they use.

Metro: Hi, Ryan. Can you talk a bit more about the local produce you hero at The Grill?
We definitely try to support local as much as we can: think Black Origin, or Lee Fish. The reason why we like to buy from Lee Fish is because they have day fisheries. This means the boats go out for a day, and come back that day, so you’re getting freshly caught fish. There may be other suppliers that go out for four days, and by the time they get back you may receive produce that’s five, or even six days old. With Lee, the fish they catch is also finished that day, meaning they don’t have any leftovers. Every day is a new list. They tell us: this is what we have, and you either get it, or you don’t get it.

And where are they based again?
In Leigh, just up North. Leigh like their name, but spelled L-e-i-g-h.

Oh [laughs] that makes sense. And you mentioned Black Origin — some people have this perception that the best wagyu is raised in Japan, but Black Origin is obviously New Zealand-based.
Yeah, Black Origin teamed up with Japanese partners that have been farming it for years and years and years. [The owner of] Black Origin’s partner is Japanese, so they figured that with the land, and the amount of beef that gets produced here, we have the best environment for it. So they’ve incorporated Japanese techniques into New Zealand’s environment and conditions, which helps raise it to such a high standard that the meat even gets shipped to Japan.

Why is it so important to the Grill to support local?
Our product is some of the best in the world. We are proud of that and celebrate it as much as we can. Also, we are conscious of the food miles that go into transport overseas product. So if we can get things locally, then it’s another thing we don’t have to ship from overseas. And then obviously with Covid, everything has shrunk; the market has shrunk. We’ve had to learn to deal with new people closer to the community, rather than going out. For example, the produce we used to get in winter that’s seasonal in the Northern Hemisphere is no longer able to come here, so it’s been more difficult. It’s about playing with what you have available, and helping the community out as well.

And do you think including where everything is from on your menu helps with the diners’ experience as well?
To be honest, yes. Our guests appreciate it. We currently sell a lot of Black Origin at the moment. It’s premium meat, technically the best wagyu you can get in the country, so you expect to pay more. And customers are loving it.


The Grill is located at 90 Federal St and is open from Wednesday to Saturday.


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