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Flash Gordon Waves the Flag For Kiwi Cuisine

MEDIA RELEASE

Flash Gordon Waves the Flag For Kiwi Cuisine

(News Release issued on behalf of the Restaurant Association of New Zealand)


The Kiwi chef credited with taking 'fusion' cuisine to the UK as well as nurturing the talents of young New Zealand chefs has been honoured by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand - which has bestowed its 2005 Innovator's Award on Peter Gordon.

The Innovator's Award - sponsored by Westpac - is presented annually by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand to a foodservice or hospitality professional whose visionary enthusiasm has contributed to the development and betterment of the industry

"Peter's talent and reputation make him a worthy recipient of the Innovator's Award," said Westpac spokesman Ian Bonnar. "Westpac sponsors this award because it recognises excellence and innovation, and Peter has built his spectacularly successful career around these qualities."

The Innovator's Award selection committee chairman Dana Stiles said Peter Gordon was chosen as the 2005 award recipient for the outstanding work Gordon has achieved "waving the flag for all things New Zealand" during his high profile global career.

"Peter's commitment to both New Zealand and the culinary profession on both sides of the globe has been nothing short of exemplary. Not only is Peter an ambassador for New Zealand food and wine internationally, but he also has shown a tireless dedication to the future of the hospitality industry though various alliances with training and educational bodies," said Dana Stiles.

"This year Peter was intrinsically involved as consultant chef with the opening the visually stunning dine by Peter Gordon restaurant in SKYCITY Auckland, and once again showed through the array of menu dishes, that he continues to push back the boundaries of fusion and New Zealand cooking styles and food presentation."

Peter Gordon was born in Wanganui in 1963. Gordon moved to Melbourne in the mid-1980s where he began a four-year cookery apprenticeship, and in his final study year at college was awarded the Best Theory Student. Taking a year out from working in the kitchen, Peter Gordon then went backpacking around South-East Asia - a learning journey which he credits as having the biggest influence on his current cookery styles. Peter Gordon returned to New Zealand in 1986 to set up and run the kitchen in Wellington restaurant, The Sugar Club for owners Ashley Sumner and Vivienne Hayman.

"This was the birth of my style of 'fusion food' - combining techniques I learnt as an apprentice with ideas gleaned on my travels. The Sugar Club was a huge success and the food became widely respected for its inventiveness and cheek," said Gordon.

When The Sugar Club sold in 1989, Peter Gordon and the owners moved to London with the dream of replicating the restaurant unique cuisine style. Achievement of that dream took seven years. During those years Peter Gordon did varied jobs, including being a private chef for a wealthy businessman, establishing a catering business and consulting at several London restaurant kitchens - becoming head chef at a private members club.

The Sugar Club, London-style, was finally launched in 1996 and quickly became one of the city's leading restaurants - winning titles such as 'Best Modern British' restaurant and 'Best Pacific Rim' restaurant for its eclectic and cutting-edge cuisine. Following The Sugar Club's rise to stardom, Peter Gordon was commissioned to write several cookery books and newspaper columns.

Appreciating chef Peter Gordon's culinary talents and reputation, Air New Zealand signed him up as a consultant designing their in-flight menus, while British TV channels filmed him for a range of shows. In 1999, the New Zealand Society in London named Peter Gordon 'New Zealander of the Year' for his promotion of all things Kiwi.

The Sugar Club's quirky cuisine popularity was spotted by giant British supermarket chain Marks and Spencer which launched a range of ready-made meals under the 'Fusion Foods' label. Pining for home though, Peter Gordon began to spend more and more time in New Zealand on a range of culinary projects - such as The Marlborough Culinary Fare and Harvest Hawke's Bay food and wine festivals.

In 2001 Peter Gordon opened the award winning Providores and adjoining Tapa Room restaurants in central London with his three NZ partners; Michael McGrath, Jeremy Leeming and Anna Hansen. Passionate about developing the skills of young trainee chefs, Peter Gordon took up a role assisting in the running of the NZ-UK Link Foundation Cookery Modern Apprentice of the Year title in the UK. In New Zealand, the competition is administered by the Hospitality Standards Institute.

The annual scholarship enables a trainee British chef to travel and work in New Zealand restaurants, and a trainee New Zealand chef to travel and work in a handful of UK restaurants. This year, Peter Gordon was a judge at the New Zealand selection cook-off held in Wellington recently.

Aside from considerable promotional work for a variety of companies and organisations, Peter Gordon is also integrally linked to several charity groups - including Leuka which raises funds for leukaemia patients at London's Hammersmith Hospital, the Children's Fire and Burns Trust in the UK, the Wallace and Gromit Children's Foundation for hospitalised children, and Jamie Oliver's 'Cheeky Chops' charity which trains underprivileged youngsters for careers in the catering sector.

ENDS

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