When I began my chefs apprenticeship in Melbourne in 1981 it was my dream to one day own my own restaurant. This finally happened in August 2001 when myself and three friends opened The Providores and Tapa Room on London's Marylebone High Street. Previous to that I'd been executive chef, but not owner, of The Sugar Club in Soho and Notting Hill, and before that executive chef at the Mayfair private members club Green Street. However, since The Providores opened I have become involved in many other restaurants and food businesses, some as consultant, some as investor. This was something I hadn't foreseen, but that I have enjoyed immensely.
This gorgeous and stylish bar and restaurant, which opened on 23rd November 2006, serves possibly New Zealand's largest selection of Spanish wines and tapas style dishes. Bellota is Spanish for acorn, and I chose this name in honour of the acorns that the Iberico pigs eat in their last 15-18 months of life before being transformed into the most delicious pork products known to the gastronomic world - Jamon Iberico de bellota. The menu is as authentic as we can make it in New Zealand where Spanish ingredients and wines are only just beginning to make headway and become more easily available. I have worked as a consultant to Foods from Spain for many years, the UK based Spanish Governmental department which promotes all aspects of Spanish gastronomy. It is Spain, of all European countries, that most excites my palate.