Showcasing the best of Arrowtown's produce

Saffron Resturant's Pete Gawron is renowned for his passion for food. He shares some of his favourite spots in Central Otago.

Arrowtown’s Saffron Restaurant was opened in 1996 by Adelaide-born Executive Chef Pete Gawron and his wife Melanie Hill who have since added the quaint Blue Door bar and Agave mexican food next door to their portfolio.  

Renowned for his zest and passion for food, Pete’s dishes are designed to suit the seasons and are heavily influenced by Asia and his yearly travels overseas.  Pete is a great champion of local ingredients, many of which he painstakingly hand-harvests in season.

Saffron’s innovative, flavourful menu is complemented by an extensive wine list showcasing wines from Central Otago as well as selected New Zealand wines and a fine cellar of vintage French wines.

Not far from Queenstown, Saffron is a culinary gem in historic Arrowtown and has been featured in Condé Nast Traveller’s ‘Top 100 Tables’ of the world’s most exciting restaurants.

A stone’s throw from world-class ski resorts Saffron is the perfect place to enjoy a fine-dining experience after an action-packed day up the slopes.

Q & A with Pete Gawron

Bites…. (I know this great little place) 

Pete: With delight I see Olivers’, in Clyde, has been revamped. The food is consistent and highlights local produce and dining there involves a lovely drive along the Lake Dunstan Road.

What’s your favourite table in Central Otago?

Pete: Folding out camping chairs and tables set up along the Mataura River. Hot smoking a brown trout on a sunny morning in spring is impossible to beat!

The local food discovery of the last year…?

Pete: I had a Massaman curry in Thailand recently and found the definitive recipe for that unique dish. Bringing it back to Arrowtown and cooking the dish with local lamb is a definite highlight.

What is Central Otago’s best-kept food secret?

Pete: Autumn, when the leaves change colour is really one of the most beautiful times of the year in Arrowtown. The quince trees produce exquisite fruit; my kitchen smells magnificent as I set about making quince paste, quince jam, and roasting this delightful fruit with cinnamon, star anise and ginger. We also make a delicious quince sorbet, so here we have a fruit that can be served with savoury dishes, with cheese, as a desert or simply jellied on toast as a snack. The local crab apples and walnut trees all planted by the descendants of the first wave of miners are equally versatile and delicious!

Best place to go on a day off?

Pete: From mid-June the only place to go is either, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables or Cardrona ski fields. Looking out of my window right now I can see the snow line is very low, which is perfect.

Favourite indulgence in Central Otago?

Pete: It has to be sitting by a roaring fire at home in winter with my wife Mel and our 2 beautiful daughters and indulging in a home cooked meal and little Central Otago pinot noir.

What should a visitor avoid, food-wise, in Central Otago?

Pete: I would suggest a great rule of thumb is to find a restaurant where the owner is also the chef.