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Fleur Caulton

On a roll: Q&A with Fleur Caulton

The founders of Queenstown’s Rata and four Madam Woo restaurants, Josh Emett and Fleur Caulton have been on a roll, hospitality speaking, with the shared vision and love of food that has seen both dining options become such a success.


 Fleur Caulton


Now they’re heading new Asian fusion restaurant Hawker & Roll, which has just hit Christchurch, following on from the success of branches in Auckland and Queenstown. We sat down with Fleur to discuss the new dining destination.



Where did the inspiration for Hawker & Roll come from?
Hawker & Roll is inspired by Malaysian street food restaurants and their ability to consistently serve the gutsy dishes Malaysia is famous for. The hawker roll quickly became a signature dish at Madam Woo. From the minute we opened people were raving about it! It felt like a natural next step to dedicate an eatery to our hero dish.


 Fleur Caulton


When and where are you opening in Christchurch?
We’re now open at the bustling location of 79 Cashel Street.


Can you tell us about some of the meals on offer at Hawker & Roll?
At Hawker & Roll we’re dishing up our take on Malaysian street eats. The hawker roll is the heart of the menu.

Malaysian classics such as beef rendang, sticky pork, soy sesame eggplant, percik chicken, honey szechuan prawn and hoisin roasted duck, wrapped in a flaky roti with fresh herbs and pickles, all bursting full of flavour. We’re all about taste and that means using the freshest quality ingredients.


 Fleur Caulton


I understand Hawker & Roll is leading the growing emergence of fast-casual dining in New Zealand. Can you tell us a bit more about this trend?
Dining is becoming a bigger and bigger part of daily life. As a result, people demand more quality, freshness, variety and convenience, which the fast-casual space provides.

Hawker & Roll works so well for people because they get to enjoy authentic, quality food without the fuss of a full-service restaurant.



How have the two existing branches, one in Auckland and one in Queenstown, been received?
We opened our first Hawker & Roll in Sylvia Park last December. Depending on who you ask, that’s either the best or worst time of the year to open in a shopping mall! We had lines out the door from the minute we opened. That momentum carried us through the new year into opening our Queenstown site in April. Both sites are quite different, but it’s been an amazing year for us to test the model and watch the brand grow!


Why do you think this Asian fusion offering is such a popular one in New Zealand?
Kiwis love adventurous food experiences, which is what we always aim to provide with our restaurants. I think Asian fusion appeals to the masses because it’s the perfect mix of foreign components and westernised flavours – perfect for when you don’t know what you feel like!


 Fleur Caulton


What do you think sets Hawker & Roll aside from the competition?
Sustainability is ingrained into our business. Our customers are only ever given metal or paper straws, menus printed on recycled paper, biodegradable takeaway packaging sourced from Innocent Packaging, and paper or cardboard takeaway bags and boxes. We are also working in some sites with compostable options for food scraps and used napkins.


What is the best compliment you have ever received?
I can’t recall one in particular but it’s always good when someone lets you know, ‘you are doing a damn fine job!’


Goals for the future?
Our plan is to grow to more than 100 restaurants, locally and globally by 2028. The rebrand from Mayfare to the Go To Collection has us even more excited about the future than before.


 Fleur Caulton




Josh Emett

Josh Emett’s Long Lunch: Q&A with Josh Emett

This year’s Veuve Clicquot Long Lunch at Rata in Queenstown celebrated 200 years of the champagne and featured the theme Colourama. One of New Zealand’s most beloved celebrity chefs – Josh Emett – unleashed his culinary creativity on the prestigious event. I managed to get a few questions to the maestro himself.


Josh Emett

I watch as you are instructing your team in the kitchen. How much does team play a part in serving up 100 people at the same time?

Teamwork in the kitchen is hugely important and is how the kitchen at Rata executes successful events like this one. At a glance you see a number of individual chefs managing different aspects of a dish, but at some point, they all need to come together to execute the finished dish, so timing and planning is everything. It is a great feeling when the team is performing at their full potential and a huge amount of fun.

How do you find new inspiration for the event?

This year for inspiration we drew heavily on the Colourama theme, which Veuve Clicquot focused on for much of the event. The great thing about this theme is it allowed us to play with colours and textures in the kitchen, and plate up four beautiful and natural dishes. I’m not into coloured dyes in food – I think you can achieve beautiful, multi-coloured dishes using natural ingredients and that what’s we did. Inspiration for events like this can come from anywhere. In Queenstown, it’s impossible not to have the menu at Rata draw from the beautiful landscape of the South Island and that comes out in every aspect of the dining experience, from the suppliers we use, to the produce we feature and the decor in the restaurant.


By the time it comes to presentation all the hard work’s been done. How hard are the days in the kitchen prior to Clicquot?

When running an event on such a scale that requires numerous intricate and detailed dishes being plated up all at once, it does put a huge amount of pressure on the kitchen to be organised and prepared. We have a new Head Chef at Rata, Jonathan Williams, who did an amazing job organising the prep in the lead up to the event, which allowed both lunches to flow smoothly and go off without a hitch.


How many years has it been now and how do you feel about your relationship with Clicquot in the Snow?

I think it’s a relationship that just keeps growing and proving more powerful. I feel lucky that my business partner, Fleur Caulton and I have been able to be a part of Clicquot in the Snow for many years now and it’s got to the point that the Rata Long Lunch is a staple in many people’s annual calendars. We have seen more and more demand for the event each season – which gives me confidence that we’re on the right track and offering people a unique and genuine dining experience that they really look forward too and enjoy.


I’m currently driving the new BMW X2 courtesy of BMW. They had good presence in this year’s event as a sponsor. What do you like about your affiliation?

I have been a BMW ambassador for six years now and it is an association that I am extremely proud of. We support each other’s brands on many different levels and in many different ways. I have owned several BMWs over the years and love the driving experience they offer. Their on-board technology is outstanding.

Josh Emett

Woo-ing the nation: Q&A with celebrity chef Josh Emett

Josh Emett heads an empire that counts some of the country’s much-loved hotspots in its repertoire, including Rātā, Ostro and Madam Woo. Metropol talks to this culinary creative about his new restaurant offering, a new cook book and Woo-ing the nation.

Josh Emett

Where did your passion for food come from?

I have always loved cooking right from a young age and I am very lucky to have turned that into a great career for myself. I use the same approach every time, regardless of what restaurant or what style of cooking, it’s all about the produce and ensuring that whatever comes in the back door of the restaurant is great, as local as possible and seasonal. We use free range wherever possible and we try to create the sort of dishes that will make people turn around and come back and eat them again the next day. I love being able to share my food experiences with our customers through ingredients they know, presented in a different or challenging way.

You started Rātā in Queenstown, Ostro in Auckland and the Madam Woo restaurant chain. What are you up to now?

Yes, I have been extroidanairily busy in the few years since I returned to New Zealand from working overseas. My business partner Fleur Caulton and I are very proud of Rātā in Queenstown and our Madam Woo restaurants in Queenstown, Christchurch, Hamilton, Dunedin and Takapuna. They are much loved and are becoming well known across the country. We’ve had a very busy start to this year actually, with the launch of our fast-casual spin off of Madam Woo — Hawker & Roll — first up at Sylvia Park in Auckland this past December, and more recently we opened the second one in Queenstown. That’s taken a lot of my time recently, as well as planning a new cook book and of course always innovating our menu at Madam Woo and keeping it fun, fresh, and exciting for customers.

What is the winning recipe for a great dining establishment?

We have a few keywords we use for Madam Woo, especially for service staff, which are fun, energetic, knowledgeable, delicious, and genuine. It needs to be all of those things when you come in to have a good time. The vibe has got to be noisy and energetic; food needs to be absolutely delicious and that will always be a massive focus of ours. We pour so much energy into making sure the food is outstanding and consistent, and that the service is lively and really genuine. At Rātā we have a very different approach, but we still use similar keywords like genuine, knowledgeable and fun as we think they are key to creating a great experience.

How did your childhood growing up in the small farming community of Ngahinapouri in the Waikato influence your tastes and culinary preferences?

I had a deep respect for fresh produce ingrained in me from a young age because I had the privledge of growing up on a farm where we had access to amazing ingredients; my mother did a ot of preserving and was a great cook. When I was still quite young I spent a lot of time in my parent’s kitchen experimenting with flavours and that love and passion for cooking is what ultimately drove me to pursue it as a career.

Heading into winter, what are some of your go-to comfort meals?

My go to dish for winter has got to be a curry. There’s something super comforting and warming about having a nice bowl of hot & spicy veg and meat, served with coconut or steamed jasmine rice.

How does a day in the life of Josh Emett look these days?

My days are usually extremely busy. I‘m up early every morning before the kids rise to train and exercise. Always a coffee and always a decent breakfast to set me up for the day ahead, then some time with the kids before they head off to school. Helen and I always have a catch up about who is doing what and when. Then I am either at my desk and on my phone working or often travelling around the country visiting restaurants, talking to my chefs and staff, testing dishes, planning menus etc. I am always on the lookout for new sites wherever I go. I try and divide my time between all of our restaurants as much as possible across the month.

What does the next 12 months have in store for you?

I always have lots of things going on although I do try to have a balanced life. There’s a lot of focus on the development of Hawker & Roll, hopefully we will open a few more— we’ve already signed onto Commercial Bay in Auckland so that will happen in the next 12 months at least. I’m also writing a new cookbook which is exciting. Aside from that we always have our heads down focused on all our restaurants to make sure they are running like clockwork.

Christchurch BMW

Wooing the crowds: BMW launches itself at Josh Emett’s Madam Woo

Madam Woo recently hosted the launch of the 2018 BMW X2. I caught up with celebrity Michelin chef and co-owner of Madam Woo, Josh Emett, who is also an ambassador for BMW. “I’ve been driving BMW for years,” Josh says.

Christchurch BMW

I bought my first BMW when I lived in the USA and have been a massive fan ever since. It’s great for Madam Woo to host such a fantastic event.”
Madam Woo was filled with lots of expectant BMW fans. It’s hard not to win over a crowd with such great food, but the reveal didn’t disappoint either. Having had to lift the X3 and the X2 in by crane, the wait was well worth it. The X2 unveiled a sleek, small SUV. With a low profile and some beautiful curves, it’s a great addition to the X range.
The BMW X2 is available with two distinct engine options for the local market. The sDrive18i petrol variant generates a maximum output of 100kW of power and 220Nm of torque, while fuel consumption is still an impressive 5.4l/100km.
Topping the range is the sDrive20i variant, with an engine delivering 141kW of power and 280Nm of torque. Also remarkable is fuel economy of just 5.9l/100km.
Christchurch BMW Dealer Principal Mathew Barr revealed some artistic impressions on the new dealership building and talked about the move toward electric vehicles within BMW. It was great to talk with some other BMW family/aficionados on the night and great to see one of my favourite brands moving forward here in Christchurch.