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Taking diners on a culinary journey

Media release from Sofitel Queenstown
November 29, 2006

Taking diners on a culinary journey

Darren Clements has been announced this week as Sofitel Queenstown’s newly appointed Executive Chef.

Originally from Australia, Darren has travelled extensively and now plans to take Sofitel Queenstown guests and locals on a culinary journey.

“I’ve worked all over the world so my direction has changed over the years. I would describe my style as an ever-evolving eclectic mix, classically based yet drawing on my passion for Asian cuisine,” says Darren.

During his exceptionally well-heeled career, thirty-six year old Darren has spent time as an Executive Sous Chef overseeing 80 chefs in a five-star hotel in Bucharest, Romania, and was the Executive Chef Consultant for an exclusive lodge in Tasmania. He has cooked for world leaders, Hollywood stars, wealthy businessmen and Arabian royalty.

Darren also worked in the Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort in Dubai, opening a series of themed restaurants in the world-renowned hospitality complex. Darren names the Dubai International Film Festival as a career highlight, where film stars Morgan Freeman and Sarah Michelle Gellar were among 3,500 guests he catered for over the 4-night event.

Most recently Darren was based at Australia’s Vue Grand hotel as Executive Chef, where he established and launched the stunning al fresco restaurant Café Lure.

Darren’s new Vie dinner menu will be launched on Saturday December 16 and will include an intriguing range of tastes and flavours. A totally new dinner menu will come first, followed by the progressive roll-out of a new lunch menu over early summer. Darren will also add festive flair to the stunning Vie Christmas and New Year’s Eve menus.

“I’ve drawn on my culinary experiences from overseas, primarily in Asia but also Europe, and these carefully selected flavours will roll through the whole menu.”

Already familiar with the world-renowned Sofitel brand, Darren was based in Melbourne for over a year at Sofitel Melbourne and he held the position of Senior Sous Chef at The Windsor Hotel, Australia’s oldest 5-star hotel.

“The attraction and challenge of Vie is its boutique feel in this compact resort town. I see Vie as an intimate boutique restaurant, something I can call my baby, if you like. I’m looking forward to working closely with a great food and beverage team.”

Recognising the plethora of dining options in the Queenstown area, Darren says that clear differentiation will continue to be key for Sofitel’s Vie restaurant.

“At Vie I will be developing a distinct look and taste for our dining. I’m on the lookout for gourmet products and have always advocated tracking down the very best foods from any region I work in,” says Darren.

“I’ll be tapping into seasonal foods, what’s fresh and what’s now, and will change the menu to reflect that seasonality.”

Darren’s arrival in Queenstown marks only his second time in the South Island and his first time working in New Zealand. After years of adapting to new countries, Darren says he, his wife and their two sons are really looking forward to settling into the Queenstown lifestyle.

He is relishing the chance to get out of the kitchen to meet local Vie patrons, and recognises the importance of appealing to local clientele.

“Vie has been well-supported by locals over the past 12 months and we’ll continue to appeal to that market with an evolving menu and Vie’s popular dégustation dinners.”

Darren replaces former Executive Chef Shane Watson, who is pursuing his career in Fiji.

Sofitel Queenstown features 70 opulent and stylish deluxe rooms, ten executive suites, two penthouse suites, and two levels of restaurants, bars and boutique retail, all in the finest location in the heart of Queenstown. Earlier this year the hotel was named among the top 20 hotels in the world by prestigious Australian travel magazine Gourmet Traveller and was named the best New Zealand CBD Property in the HM Awards for Hotel and Accommodation Excellence.


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