The rumours have finally been confirmed: world-class chef Josh Emett is swapping weekend getaways for kitchen time on Waiheke as the new owner of award-winning restaurant The Oyster Inn.
With a Michelin-star resume guaranteed to make any venture as successful as his others Ostro, Rata and the Madam Woo chain — the landmark eatery in Oneroa village is in store for a fresh new chapter.
“We often have visitors from overseas and Waiheke is a place we take them immediately,” says Josh. “We’ve celebrated lots of things over there and, funnily enough, most of those have been at The Oyster Inn.”
The restaurant and boutique hotel’s original owners Andrew Glenn and Jonathan Rutherfurd Best are good friends and first met Josh and his wife Helen while both couples were living in London. The pair returned home after a lengthy stint working in the city’s fashion and events industries and opened The Oyster Inn in 2012, which quickly became an institution on the island. They then sold to new owners in December 2017.
Josh is adamant about keeping their original vision of laidback luxury and relaxed bistro-style food.
“I’ve always loved the brand and what it was,” he says. “It’s just about getting back in there and making sure it retains its original identity. I’m going to spend a lot of time over there. I can’t wait to get stuck into the menu.”
This will, of course, feature oysters — prioritising local Te Matuku Oysters — on a seafood-focused menu. Expect fresh salads through summer, cured or raw fish dishes, and crowd favourites such as fish and chips.
Josh will also expand the wine menu.
“We really want to have some outstanding wines and Champagne as well . . . Champagne and oysters always go incredibly well together.”
This next big project means Josh and his family plan to stay in New Zealand longterm.
“We always get a bit of pang for New York or LA but I think for right now it’s about firmly putting down our roots in New Zealand,” he says. “To take on The Oyster Inn is a big step towards solidifying our life in the Auckland region.”
• The Oyster Inn, 124 Ocean View Rd