The scoop on the proud owners of Hawea Store & Kitchen ...
How did we end up with the Hawea Store? ...
Owning the store had been a long time dream of Erica and I. When we returned from living overseas - we wanted to put down roots in the area, and pour our passion and expertise into something worth while and meaningful in our community.
I grew up in Dunedin - and spent my winters and summers here in Wanaka, where my family had a holiday home. I fell into cooking as a way to fund my skiing habit while in Canada. I eventually returned to the Southern hemisphere and cooked in a number of restaurants between NZ and Australia.
It was in Melbourne that I really honed my passion - particularly working as a chef under industry visionaries Andrew McConnell (Cutler & Co, Cumulous Inc., Meatsmith, Marion, Super Normal) and Josh Murphy at The Builders Arms in Fitzroy. The available produce, the melting pot of cultures, passion and massive competition proved a heady combination. Melbourne was an incredible place to work as a chef - and to enjoy as a diner.
I grew up just out of Invercargill. My family frequented a little holiday house on the lakefront here in Hawea for a long time - my parents dipping my toes in the lake when I was just a few weeks old.
After Uni, I carved out a career in Marketing & Communications in Melbourne, and eventually fell into freelance food writing on a side. Together, Hamish and I made quite the pair - if we weren't eating food together all over town, we were talking about it, writing about it, cooking it or sorting through giant piles of it at the city's markets.
Life was good - but the pull of home stronger. We packed up our things a few years back, took the long way home, then settled back into the region we now very much call home.
And how is it all going? What are the highlights?
The past (almost) three years has been incredibly dynamic - a real ride! We've grown and learned so much - and met, employed and gotten to know some wonderful, wonderful people. This community really is something very special.
Running a business that is open 7 days, day and night and employs 20-odd staff, certainly presents challenges as we raise our young family - Otis (3 years) and Francesca (16 mths). Home-life requires a steady ship, and the store - a steady hand, so it's always a balancing act. Luckily we're flanked by incredible family support from both sides, and the support of our great team of staff at the store. Right now, Erica spends her time with the Otis and Frankie at home and works behind the scenes; and I'm here at the store 6 out of 7 days most weeks.
And of course proximity - Hawea is still off the beaten track for some freight operators and it's not always a given that we receive product and orders on time. This time of year is particularly challenging! In addition, sourcing certain types of produce or ingredients that we need or want can still be a challenge in this part of the world.
Perfect Day in Hawea?
When the work day is over and dinner has been cleared away, we put Otis and Francesca in their little bike seats, and take a family ride along the lake track towards John's Creek, stopping to skip a few stones - and then off home in time for stories and bed. Not sure who loves it more - us or the kiddies.
How are we spending Christmas?
We close the store for just one day a year, it feels pretty magic to be honest! This year its all about fun together with the Mackay side of the family. There will be loads of kiddies, too much food and plenty of fun and games. Fingers crossed the sun will make an appearance too.