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Bright new era for top award-winning restaurant

Article by Make Lemonade NZ

Christchurch – One of New Zealand most award-winning restaurants, Saggio di vino in Christchurch, has entered an exciting new chapter with a new owner, for the first time in 25 years.

Saggio is now owned and run by its Chef Patron David Napier. The food is just outstanding and the ambience better than ever.

Napier operates the restaurant daily while also floating between overseeing the kitchen and carrying out front of house duties.

“Like many other chefs I started from the bottom and worked my way up, I have had plenty of ups and downs just like everybody else. My background has been mixed but I had always aimed to work in a high-level environment.

“I have worked in winery restaurants, five star hotels, luxury lodges and Michelin restaurants in London. I was also a private in-house chef for a Hollywood movie mogul which was very challenging at times but a lot of fun.

“I had worked for the previous owners back in 2014 and ironically, I took ownership, on US Independence Day this year.

“Like many who had worked here in the past I held a lot of respect for the previous owners. I have worked in many other restaurants nationwide, but when I landed in this kitchen and knew it was a serious place, driven by the passion of the owners and focusing on quality over everything.

“It was a big decision, while still in London, for my career to buy and run Saggio di Vino. I thought I would be in London long term. I didn’t think I would come back to Christchurch at all. Now, at least, I work 20 plus hour days for myself.

“I have heard great feedback from customers that the presentation and flavour of food has improved. The quality of service being non-intrusive but attentive and the wine matches spot on.

“They tell me the atmosphere is much more relaxed now and the air feels lighter. It’s a much more approachable place to be now. I have seen Saggio as a guest, an employee and now the owner and I can agree with their feedback.

“The dining experience is all about those three main points and I’m very lucky to have such skilled staff who share the same vision and passion to pull it off.

“We like to support as many small, local Canterbury businesses as we can. The supplier list for food alone is huge. Some of them only specialise in growing one thing, like this season’s white asparagus is sourced from Cambridge in the Waikato.

“Our fish is sustainable and line caught from the town of Leigh, north of Auckland. By the time we get it in the kitchen its under 24 hours old. The fish is graded and they put the small ones back in the water.

“I pick up most vegetables every week from The Greens Parkview Gardens in Christchurch who only supply wholesale to us. It’s a bit of a drive away for me but I love to pop in to see what is available and in season. The quality is consistent and if the supply is low they tell us so we can always update the menu accordingly.

“There is plenty of produce that the New Zealand market does not supply, which means we will be growing and sourcing our own exclusively.”

Saggio has eight full time staff, when the summer season picks up during Cup Week more staff will be added to the team.

Apart from many of international wine awards Saggio earned a Chef Hat in 2015. Napier says it would be a great feeling to earn an award without riding the wave of the previous owners’ success.

Their beef fillet with lemon oil, anchovies, capers and parmigiano reggiano is divine. For mains, try their pan-fried duck breast with pickled butternut, beetroot fondant, fennel and marinated orange. There’s no better dessert about than Saggio’s basil parfait with strawberries, meringue and pistachio.

For further information contact Make Lemonade media specialist Kip Brook 0275 030188

Photo: Saggio’s Chef Patron David Napier

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