Akitō Cafe – Waiheke Island

Story by Shantala Tengblad, (co-owner with her partner Simon McNeish)

  • Akito, 153 Ocean View Road, Oneroa, Waiheke Island
  • Phone: 09 372 7659
  • akito.co.nz

What is Akitō

Akitō is a Māori verb that means to ‘do something slowly’. While we chose this name because it applies to our ‘slow food’ style it also translates to a beautiful lifestyle concept. When you take the time to slow down, you create space to enjoy the small moments in life – that’s when things become more meaningful and your experiences more joyful.

People come to Waiheke to take a break from the hamster wheel and to find some peace. That is the environment we are trying to offer at our café – a place of calm, of pleasure and of meaningful food moments.

While Akitō is a ‘plant focused’ cafe, we do not label ourselves a vegan or vegetarian cafe. Eating a vegetarian diet is not what it once was and it’s always been my mission to demonstrate that. We offer dishes with maximum flavour and complexity whilst highlighting fresh, seasonal, and local produce and implementing sustainable procedures.

This food style and concept has been very well received from locals and visitors alike. We see everyday how our customers are trying to make a conscious effort to change as they become more aware of their health and the global attention to climate change continues to increase.

At Akitō we have a fantastic team who come from all corners of the world. Everyone has a deep passion for food, for health, and for flavour and there’s always laughter and volume coming from our kitchen. It is a pleasure to be amongst.

Our menu changes seasonally to keep things fresh in the kitchen and make use of fruit and vegetables while they are abundant and full of flavour. We bake our sourdough daily with each loaf taking nearly 3 days to make so they all come packed full of time, love, and consideration. We also practice methods of pickling, preserving and fermentation with fruit, vegetables, and grains.

In our cafe we aim to take on a regenerative direction and create a space that gives back to the earth as much as we take from it. By minimising food waste and plastic use in our workplace we hope to become as sustainable as possible, and create a better footprint for our Island, and the greater environment.

I was born on Waiheke and spent my childhood here. I have spent the last 12 years travelling and working onboard Superyachts as a Chef which is how I met Simon.

We were both working on different yachts in the Caribbean at the time. We had known each other only a week before our boats went in separate directions. However, we stayed in touch and a year later we started brainstorming our grand plan.

This is our first business so it is a learning game for us and each day brings new lessons. We may be a couple of rookies in the honeymoon phase of owning a business but we see every day as an opportunity to be better than the day before it.

We built this space with a deep passion for good food, for our Island and for this community. I think you need passion and drive more than anything as a foundation for good business.

Despite COVID putting a huge spanner in the works very early in the game, we still seem to be thriving with visitors to the island as well as our loyal locals. We feel very blessed to live on an Island which is a ‘destination location’, and as summer approaches we feel very optimistic for the future ahead.

Now that we’ve opened our doors and navigated our way through a winter and a pandemic, we’re going to put our heart and soul into growing this space as a place where all our customers, friends and family can feel at home. We want to use this little place as a foundation for our community to make better food choices and focus on conscious consuming.

Hospitality is an industry that always brings hurdles and challenges but between us, and with support from our fantastic local community and our families near and far, we have the bones, the strength and the support for whatever comes our way.

New Community Initiative

Lockdown has been challenging for many of us. Spare a thought for our most vulnerable, where putting food on the table is extremely difficult.

We’ve joined forces with the Tāmaki Regeneration Company to support a new community initiative called KaiAwhi, which is responding to food insecurity in East Auckland. KaiAwhi (Kai meaning Food + Awhi meaning Support) is a community-led solution to kai insecurity that operates with the support from Ruapotaka Marae. The KaiAwhi team are local people, largely volunteers who care passionately about looking after whānau in Tāmaki. Families or neighbours experiencing food insecurity can access a fresh kai box, and support from Ruapotaka Marae.

The KaiAwhi team have moved into space in the Produce Company warehouse, and 100-200 food boxes are picked and packed each week to support whānau in Tāmaki. Together we are sourcing high quality food within the supply chain at no or low cost. We look forward to sharing more about this new initiative in the future.

Curious Croppers Tomatoes

Whether you are a casual cook or a full-blown chef with a passion for food, fresh products are, and will always be, the cornerstone of the most delicious dishes. Articles and news reports surrounding the bio industry, and the chemicals used on otherwise fresh produce, often leave us hovering over our local fruit and veggies isle with a doubtful mind. If you recognise this condition, fear not, because the Curious Croppers have the antidote:

Quality fresh fruit and veggies, grown with the utmost care.

Curious Cropper Heirloom Tomatoes

When Anthony met Angela, he was already accustomed to growing regular tomatoes through his experience in horticulture. But, in 2008 the pair decided to take a different route. They began to experiment with their products to deliver unique and appealing produce, which they could put straight to the test at the Clevedon Village Farmers Market, where their products were very well received. Keen to share their produce with a larger audience, the Curious Croppers sought to supply restaurants in Auckland with the logistical help of the Produce Company.

The ‘Tiny Growers,’ as Anthony and Angela, and their children Max and Olivia call themselves, continue to operate on a humble scale to ensure the best quality, which could not be achieved on a mass scale. By having their tomatoes work for their top taste by putting them under the necessary stress, they will be in their best shape and taste when they arrive in your kitchen – fully prepared to contribute to ‘Wow!’-inducing, colourful, and healthy dishes.

Excited and keen to expand your arsenal of colourful goodness further? Not a problem!

Their Spanish Red and Oxheart tomatoes are popular among chefs. The Spanish for their flavour and the oxheart for their interesting patterns when sliced.

It seems the tomatoes did not fall far from the tomato plant, as Max and Olivia are excited to help their parents out in their noble pursuits, and are curious about the processes of growing the best fruit and veggies we could wish for.

Curious Cropper Heirloom Tomatoes

The Lewisham Awards 2018

The Lewisham Awards are hosted by a dedicated committee of industry professionals in cooperation with the Lewisham Foundation, in the city of Auckland. Its primary objective is to promote excellence in the field of hospitality through a competition. Competitions are typically characterised by stress and rivalry, but not here – The best in the business are nominated by their peers, every year, and organisations are not allowed to nominate themselves.

The 2018 Lewisham Awards marked the 16th year that the competition was held, and resulted in a record number of nominees, which were filtered until the top four of given categories remained. On Tuesday the 8th of May 2018, the voting stage commenced. Those actively working in the field of hospitality are allowed to cast their vote and are encouraged to vote in at least 10 categories.

On Tuesday the 22nd of May 2018, voting had stopped and the finalists were contacted and provided with further details.

The produce Company are proud to be the preferred supplier to so many of the winners.

Some of the winners of the 2018 competition include:

  • Amano, as Outstanding Establishment
  • Kokako Café, as Outstanding Café
  • Apero, for their Outstanding Wine List
  • Urban Gourmet, as Outstanding Caterer
  • Che Barrington – GoGo Daddy / Chop Chop / Woodpecker Hill / The Bluebreeze Inn, as Outstanding Chef

 

A full list of winners can be found here

Metro Top 50 Restaurants

The Produce Company – Proud Supplier of Top Restaurants

Leading up to the annual ‘Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year Awards,’ Metro 50 announces its list of ‘Auckland’s Top 50 restaurants for 2018.’ More than one hundred contestants were thoroughly tested over the course of a couple of months to determine the best. Whilst doing so, anonymous judges pay close attention to the finer details of the experience. Points are awarded based on over forty criteria, such as the drinks list, service, ambience, the fit-out, and the way the restaurant suits its location. Ultimately, the question that needs to be answered is: ‘How much do you want to revisit?’

Due to revision of the rules, and greater attention to finer details, it is no guarantee that successful restaurants that made the list last year in 2017, such as Artwok, Ima, Spacca, or Molten would make the list again. In 2018, the winner’s list includes powerhouse restaurants such as: Sidart as Restaurant of the Year 2018, Cotto, Cassia, Hugo’s Bistro, Ponsonby Road Bistro, Cazador, Casita Miro, Apero, among many others.

The Produce Company is proud of the fact that it can contribute to the servings of 80% of the resulting fifty victors, by delivering quality fresh produce at their doorstep. Whether it be excellent luscious pieces of lamb, flavourful fruits, crispy vegetables, savoury sauces, or beckoning beverages to accompany all, The Produce Company is committed to the timely delivery of any and all fresh produce to top caterers in Auckland.

Award Winning Butchery

The Produce Company Takes Out Top Sausage Title

The Produce Company are proud to announce a Gold Medal at the 2017 Devro Great New Zealand Sausage Competition, awarded last night, Thursday the 19th of October in Auckland.

Winning the Gold Medal for its hand crafted Hillside Farms Fresh Chorizo Sausage in the Continental Fresh Category from over 500 entries nationwide is a welcome achievement for this boutique NZ owned and operated company.

As the regions premier produce supplier, The Produce Company is passionate about supplying the new season’s freshest and highest quality produce available – and intent on sourcing only the best New Zealand produce for Chefs and Consumers locally and internationally.

Rob McPhee, Produce Company’s Owner and Director says; “Our Fresh Chorizo sausage has been hand crafted with only the freshest spices and best New Zealand pork making it juicy, smokey, flavoursome and uniquely spicy  – its always been a hit with staff and our customers alike, so we’re not surprised it took out a top award.”

With the addition of an in-house boutique butchery, The Produce Company also source and supply only the highest quality range of premium beef, lamb, pork and poultry including speciality game meats and birds to the retail and hospitality sectors under its Hillside Farms brand. Working closely with premium farms and growers including Pure South, Freedom Farms, Natural Farms and Brinks, The Produce Company are able to offer a range of custom freshly prepared and packaged quality cuts, including bespoke hand crafted sausages and patties.

Produce Company’s Head Butcher, Barry Pilkington was delighted to receive the award on the night.

‘It’s a passion of our team to hand craft sausages that bring out the very best of The Produce Company’s NZ produce, and with only natural ingredients – this sausage truly showcases the quality of NZ produce available.

Perfect for spring barbeques and festive celebrations, this smokey, juicy number will delight and tantalise all tastebuds.