Josh Emett made his name internationally as an acclaimed Michelin star chef, but everything about him and what he aspires to, is Kiwi.
He has a proud record working alongside Gordon Ramsay in London, New York and Melbourne for 11 years achieving four Michelin stars and an outstanding international reputation. More recently he has become a well-known television face as Masterchef New Zealand judge and a Masterchef Australia celebrity chef.
But that aside, his New Zealand and Hamilton roots have always been strong, and he has for many years harboured the idea of a local neighbourhood restaurant with a regional flavour, in Central Otago.
“I have looked inside New Zealand for inspiration despite my overseas experience in the industry. Rata is a big change for me but it is very much about us. So much of us, both Fleur and I and our families, is showcased in the look and feel, the whole ambience of Rata. We have focused on a region in a subtle way and people respond to that. It makes them feel involved as well.”
Josh believes they have stayed true to their vision, contributing to their early success.
“It’s not just about the food it’s about the décor, the ambience and the service. We went over and over our ideas to ensure they were right for Queenstown and it’s great what we have achieved. We are doing something that no-one else is doing and judging by the response we have got it right with the food, the simplicity and the good fun element. That’s exactly what we wanted from the outset.”
Josh spends as much time as possible in Queenstown cooking at Rata, alongside Head Chef Chris Scott, and mixing and chatting with guests in the restaurant underlining the informal, friendly style. He also likes to get out into the wide open spaces in Central Otago searching for further inspiration.
“Rata, as its name implies, is all about New Zealand but particularly the south. It’s so appropriate and reinforces exactly who and what we are.”