Revolutionary Māori cuisine at Hiakai

Celebrity chef Monique Fiso showcases indigenous ingredients at her Wellington degustation restaurant

Fresh ingredients at Hiakai on Wallace Street

Where

Mount Cook

Location

40 Wallace Street
Mount Cook

The Māori-Samoan chef is one of the hottest stars of the New Zealand culinary scene right now, partly thanks to her starring role in the award-winning Netflix cooking show, The Final Table, in which she competed against 23 of the globe’s top chefs.

Her restaurant, Hiakai (which means hungry in te reo Māori), is one of the most unique dining experiences in Wellington. Located in suburban Wellington, in Mt Cook, opposite Massey University, Hiakai is a fine-dining restaurant but Monique’s version isn’t formal or overdone.

Monique Fiso from Hiakai
hiakai wallace st ingredients
hiakai wallace st
hiakai waiter setting table

Monique’s goal is to overthrow ideas about Māori cuisine and ingredients, researching and showcasing Māori and Polynesian ingredients in modern and innovative ways. Items like Tītī bird, Red Matipo and mamaku are rarely seen on restaurant menus, but regularly feature in the degustation menu at Hiakai. Her kai has been described as intelligent and thought-provoking. Food writer Lauraine Jacobs raved: "This chef is forging a path and showing the food community just how good our New Zealand-grown ingredients can be."

At the start of each week, Monique, accompanied by at least one of her chefs, forages around Wellington’s hillside for ingredients she will add to her boundary-pushing dishes - morsels like the green-lipped mussel icecream she serves as a savoury dish. The changing menu isn’t online but diners lucky enough to book a table receive a glossary of all the ingredients on the back of the menu and Fiso’s waiters know every dish intimately.

Since Hiakai opened, Monique has cooked alongside the French Colombia chef Charles Michel and Australia’s most acclaimed chef, Mark Best. She has also foraged with Gordon Ramsay for his National Geographic "Uncharted" series. The only challenge with Hiakai is getting a seat - you may need to book weeks in advance.

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