Inside scoop

Just quietly, we've been told that tickets to The Next Crew dinner go on sale at 9am tomorrow. Given that previous events staged by this talented trio of head chefs - Nick Honeyman (Cru), Hayden McMillan (TriBeCa) and Mark Southon (The Foodstore) - sold out in under two hours, you'd better be quick.

This time they'll take on three top young Japanese chefs; Makoto Tokuyama (Cocoro), Kazyua Yamauchi (formerly Rice and Cibo) and Seishiro Takaoka from Japan (Time California Kitchen).

The challenge? To swap cuisines and see who does it better. "Last winter we took on the Australians, now we'll be giving the Japanese a run for their money," says Honeyman.


After taking a brief hiatus to re-stock their artillery of ideas, the Crew says guests should be prepared for some of their most adventurous dishes yet and with stunning Cocoro as the venue it will be a memorable night for sure.

March 18 and 19, 7.30pm. $200 for seven courses with matched wines, canapes on arrival and Japanese beer, plum wine and sake available all night. Itickets available from here.

Sail on in

The celebrations to be part of this week are the arrival in of the yachts taking part in the 2011/12 Volvo Ocean Race. From tomorrow, Auckland's Viaduct will be transformed into a buzzing Race Village with the Stoneleigh Latitude Wines alfresco garden bar on Te Wero Island at the very heart of it.

The Volvo Ocean Race sees the world's fastest monohulls racing around the globe in a nine-month marathon - so you can bet the sailors will be pleased to spend some time on dry land. The first boats are due to arrive tomorrow and they will set sail again on March 18. During that time there will be an In Port Race and Pro-Am Race in Auckland harbour. The Stoneleigh bar will be open daily from 11am-9pm, with a whole host of events and live music planned. It will be the perfect place to soak up the last of the summer city vibe.

Check it out

dine by Peter Gordon is collaborating with the legendary Family of Twelve, a collective of 12 family-owned New Zealand wineries, to bring food lovers of Auckland the Uncorked Winemaker Dinner Series - six dinners, held at dine throughout the year, where guests will be treated to a night of fine wine and fabulous food and the chance to meet the winemakers. The first is tonight and features Nautilus Estate and Villa Maria Winery. $150pp. To book, ph (09) 363 7030.

Menu pick


The Bluff oyster season is upon us with restaurants all over town now dishing up these delicacies. The Viaduct's Soul Bar & Bistro kicked off the season with a bang by flying up from Bluff 2200 dozen oysters along with two top oyster schuckers, for two all-you-can-eat lunches earlier this week. Soul will have this connoisseur's oyster - sweet, savoury, silky and seriously luscious - on the menu throughout the season.