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.