The US-born, Auckland-based restaurateur reveals his favourite memories from his life in travel.

What are your strongest memories from the first overseas trip you ever took?

I was 20, and I travelled from my home in the US to Australia, Southeast Asia and New Zealand. What stands out for me is it was a trip where I didn't know whether I was going to be gone for two months or two years. This was my first time outside the United States and towards the end of my two years of intense travels, I immediately fell in love with New Zealand. I truly understood the concept of Tūrangawaewae. New Zealand spoke to my heart and I knew this is where I needed to live.

What was a standard family holiday like when growing up?

Our family trip was usually camping somewhere in New England in the Northeast US because it was the cheapest way to entertain a large family. Although in good years a family favourite was staying at a small beach house in Rhode Island. The sounds of waves crashing and fog horns affect me deeply to this day, from summers spent there.


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Who has most inspired your travels?

In school my favourite subjects were history, geography and science. Studying different cultures, people and places always inspired me to get up and go.

What is the greatest trip you've ever been on?

Florence, Italy. I spent six months in Tuscany with my then-girlfriend-now-wife Annette. We split our time between Florence and a small rural town called Vetulonia. Annette and I worked on a farm with 30 Arabian horses and a huge garden with an olive grove. We were introduced to Italian life - we lived with the locals: working the land, preserving vegetables and making fresh pasta every day. Heaven.

And the worst?

Hong Kong's Mong Kok area is an assault to the senses. The Grove Restaurant was invited to the Hong Kong Food & Wine Festival a few years ago. July in Mong Kok is intense; inside you would be freezing in the air conditioning running a wine tasting - then, if you ventured outdoors to explore the wet markets, you felt like you should be wearing your swimsuit.

What's your approach to packing for an overseas trip?

I always loved the concept of cutting what you would normally pack in half, and doubling your spending money. Still working on that.


What is the destination that most surprised you – good or bad?

I was totally blown away by Sicily when I visited there for some research and development a few years back. I travelled for three weeks and stayed at Tasca winery in central Sicily. This small town would not be there if it wasn't for the winery. We were treated like kings - everything we had was produced in the town, from the meat and vegetables to olive oil and long-lost strains of grain that are only found in that particular valley of Sicily.

Where was your most memorable sunrise/sunset?

I worked on a prawn trawler in northern Australia for three months (way before Forrest Gump). Spectacular sunrises and sunsets were an everyday occurrence. Even though I was a young man at the time, I knew to hold on to every moment.

What's the first thing you do when you get home from a long trip?

I love to cook a heathy meal for the family, surrounded by my own kitchen utensils and everything I love working with.


What do you miss most about home when you travel?

My bed.

Where is the one destination you must see before you die?

Antarctica. It's the last continent for me to put my big toe on. My wife hates the cold, so I might be going there solo

What's your favourite thing about travel?

I love early mornings - watching a new city wake up and come alive