Zest fires up chef’s imagination

Couple take over eatery whose location they have always admired

A TIMARU man cannot get enough of the restaurant on Elizabeth Place, his love for it enduring more than 10 years, and leading him and his wife to buy it. ‘‘It ticks all the boxes,’’ he says. Grant Phillips and his wife Kristy, of Timaru, own what used to be Red Rocket and is now called Zest.

Mr Phillips originally worked at the former Jackson hall when it was first converted into a restaurant, called Passions, in 1997. It was a location that he had always thought of as desirable. He then went to work in restaurants in Australia and around the South Island, eventually coming back to Timaru in 2001. On his return, he worked as head chef at what was then called Zanzibar, on the Bay Hill.

This was followed by helping to open Speight’s Ale House as head chef in 2004. He stayed there for three years before changing his career path completely and spending some time in the building industry. The couple enjoyed being a part of the hospitality industry and looked at many premises during the past 10 years, eager to have a venture they could call their own.

The opportunity to purchase the restaurant was just the one they had been waiting for. They took it over on November 2, and closed for 10 days, during which an amazing team helped to create the new look of Zest. Mrs Phillips now fulfils the role of maitre d’ while Mr Phillips is the head chef.

Vibrant decor, fresh flavour and friendly staff a top combination

ZEST lives up to its name. It is vibrant and fresh, from the colours of its decor to the flavours of the food and the friendliness of the staff.

‘‘[The name] said what we wanted it to say, with its energetic and colourful connotations,’’ owners Grant and Kristy Phillips say. The dining areas have been re-worked to have comfy couches in a cosy lounge area, where people can relax. There are also tall tables and stools in the bar area, where people can sit and have a beer or coffee or wait for their takeaway pizzas. The whole menu has changed, offering a range of top-quality gourmet pizzas with a full a la carte menu. The children’s menu has more than doubled in size.

The restaurant is fully licensed, offering beer, wine and spirits, with all wines being offered by the glass. Some of the beverages on the drinks menu are sourced from close by in Timaru, Waimate and Christchurch, keeping with the local supplier theme.

The restaurant has plenty of parking around it and features a courtyard that basks in all-day sun. A large log-burner inside can keep people warm and cosy on days that are cooler. The couple are already noticing regular customers returning for their favourite pizza or their preferred option from the a la carte menu. These people can get used to Zest, and its delicious food, as Mr and Mrs Phillips say they are here for the long haul.

Zest is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to late, and on Sundays from 10.30am to late. The menu is available all day, with the conversion from the day menu to the evening menu occurring at 5pm.

To view the article on the Courier Newspaper on-line:http://digital.timarucourier.co.nz/


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