Top chef Ben Bayly is poised to open a new eatery boasting Auckland's very best cuisine, Spy understands.
Bayly has been keeping a low profile since finishing a nine-year stint as head chef at The Grove last year.
Spy has learned the former MKR NZ judge has been taking time to regroup, enjoying spending time with his wife and three kids and has also eaten his way through New York and Greece on recent trips.
Auckland diners would also have seen him busily overseeing the kitchens at his own casual eatery The Grounds in West Auckland and at Michael Dearth's Baduzzi on North Wharf.
Now it seems new ventures are afoot with the rumour mill in overdrive about Bayly getting ready to open a new Auckland eatery of "Grove-like" standards.
Sources tell Spy he will be part of the soon-to-open Commercial Bay development.
We hear it will be fine dining with Bayly's signature relaxed feel. His restaurant is said to join other hospitality offerings in the precinct, including one from Al Brown, as well as New York restaurant Saxon + Parole; Ghost Donkey – which specialises in Mexican cuisine – Mimi Gilmour's Burger Burger; Josh Emett's Hawker & Roll; Simon&Lee and a London cocktail bar called Genuine Liquorette.
We also hear Bayly might spread his wings down to Central Otago this year. Could he be about to give former MKR judges Gareth Stewart, who is Executive Chef at Jervois Steak House, and Emett who has Rata, a run for their money in Queenstown? Watch this space.
And just to show Bayly is really back with a vengeance, a television show starring the smiling chef is said to start filming soon.