New Zealand chef: Al Brown

Al Brown – chef, TV presenter, writer and restaurant-owner – is one of the best known faces of New Zealand cuisine.

Since co-founding an iconic Wellington restaurant in 1996, Al Brown's career has diversified into writing cookbooks, television cooking shows, producing food products and, most recently, the establishment of new eateries and food outlets in Wellington and Auckland.

Now based in Auckland, Al can often be found in one of his trendy city centre establishments - Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar or Federal Delicatessen. Depot and Federal Deli are located in the downtown Federal Street entertainment precinct adjacent to the Sky Tower. Al also owns a chain of authentic Montreal-style bagel operations in Auckland and Wellington, which service fresh bagels cooked in a wood fire oven and served as a meal with delicious gourmet toppings.

Beyond the city

Out of the kitchen, Al became a familiar face (alongside Steve Logan) as co-presenter of the award-winning television food series, Hunger for the Wild, which introduced great Kiwi characters and tracked New Zealand’s finest wild food to produce dishes of game and seasonal delicacies.

Since then Al has appeared in several television series including Coasters - a celebration of the people and stories of New Zealand’s coastal regions. In 2014, he hosted Dishing Up Australia, a culinary tour through Australia, and was head judge on MasterChef New Zealand. He has also authored four top selling cook books.

Passion for outdoors

Al Brown grew up in the Wairarapa region, in the southern half of the North Island, on a sheep and cattle property.

His passion for the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing, developed early in life when he went on regular hunting holidays with his family to the coast.

After completing a culinary arts degree at the New England Culinary Institute, USA, then cooking in restaurants in North America, Europe and New Zealand, Brown returned to New Zealand and opened Logan Brown Restaurant.

Awards

Al Brown’s flair in the kitchen has earned the chef widespread recognition, including both runner-up (2006) and Restaurant of the Year (2009), and Restaurant Personality of the Year (2013) in Cuisine magazine's annual awards.

As a New Zealand Trade & Enterprise ambassador chef, Al Brown has also represented New Zealand internationally since 2003.

In 2005, he cooked for more than 850 guests at the prestigious International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon, USA. In 2007, he was invited to present at the highly prestigious Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Master Class Series.

Since opening, Depot has been named twice as the Supreme Winner of the prestigious Metro Restaurant of the Year awards.

Award-winning author

Brown is the author of the award-winning Go Fish (2009) which is based around his love of fishing and seafood.

Go Fish won ‘Best Single Subject’ book at the 2010 IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) Cook Book Awards in Oregon, USA. It was also a winner at the 2010 NZ Post Book Awards, picking up the 'Readers Choice' and 'Best Illustrative Non Fiction' awards.

He has also written Stoked - a collection of recipes based on meat and outdoors barbeque cooking, Get Fresh which celebrates regional New Zealand cuisine, and Depot - biography of a restaurant.

Simple food - cooked perfectly

Al Brown says he enjoys eating just about anything but most of all, simple food cooked perfectly.

There’s nothing better, Brown says, than trout fishing, snorkelling for paua and other seafood, then sharing a barbecue with friends and family.

More information

Restauranteur Steve Logan