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NZ sustainable restaurant founder to takeover ICA Rochelle Canteen

On the 4 June, Margot Henderson will welcome Alex Davies, the chef and founder of sustainable, low-waste restaurant Gatherings in New Zealand’s Christchurch to takeover Rochelle Canteen at the ICA with his plant-focused menu.

Since they first started working together, Henderson and co-founder Melanie Arnold have been advocates of sustainable cooking, getting the most from their produce and keeping waste to a minimum. Inspired by a similar approach to cooking, Alex’s restaurant, Gatherings, started after the 2011 earthquake with a fresh vision for ecologically-conscious cooking in the city.

Whilst working on an organic farm in North Canterbury, Davies created his sustainable supper clubs under the same name which led to a permanent site in 2017. Soon after opening, the restaurant drew praise from critics for his vegetarian root to tip style of cooking and in 2017 the restaurant won best new metropolitan restaurant at the Cuisine Good Food Awards.

Having emigrated to New Zealand in his youth, Alex will be back in the UK in June to showcase his original take on modern New Zealand cookery with his most-celebrated vegetarian dishes from Gatherings.

Kicking things off, Davies will be cooking up dishes inspired by those from Gatherings and Rochelle Canteen here in London.

On offer will be a five-course menu starting with Davies’ signature Cucumber and black pepper toasts followed by creations using the produce of the season such as; Tomato broth with hard cheese dumplings; Creamed corn flat breads with oyster mushrooms and brown butter custard, courgettes noodles with XO, minted peas and potato doughnuts.

For dessert, transporting diners to the shores of the Pacific, there will be rich Vanuatu chocolate terrine and fragrant Tongan vanilla cream with sour cherries and cherry sorbet.

For the occasion, Head Bartender Fin Spiteri has created a pineapple and lemongrass kombucha cocktail spiked with gin and topped up with lemon and soda for guests to enjoy on arrival.

Davies said, “I am very excited to get back to the UK to cook at Rochelle Canteen with Margot. I have always admired her style of cooking and am looking forward to bringing a touch of Gatherings to the ICA.”

Henderson added, “I first tried Alex’s food on a trip to Christchurch and it immediately captured my imagination, he uses his sustainable ethos to fuel his creativity in the kitchen and that is something we try to do at Rochelle. We are really looking forward to welcoming him in June.”