When Michael Meredith decided to close his restaurant doors in 2017, his right-hand man, Chef Harry Holroyd was hot property on the dining scene. Job offers came rolling in. Harry chose to tap into the vision and potential that Tantalus Estate offered – food gardens, beehives, olive groves, macadamias, wetlands, a craft brewery and vineyard. He was ready to quit the city and share his fresh perspective, his adventurous and hard won talent with us.
Entering a busy kitchen as a dishwasher at 16 years old is not for the faint-hearted, especially when it’s the famed Antoines Restaurant, headed by the legendary Tony Astle. Harry learned fast how to survive; to interact and to respect the harsh realities of life in a busy kitchen. Hungry for more experience, he swapped high-school for culinary school and worked the nightshift in Antoine’s demanding kitchen. Within 18 months he was working alongside Tony Astle via a leap of faith blended with youthful enthusiasm. One fateful busy evening he took on Head Chef duties because he thought he could and because he had no choice. He’d long quit culinary school, opting to learn by doing in the gritty and sometimes brutal reality of a famous kitchen.
His biggest influence to date is ‘Mama Fay’ – we know her as Kate Fay from the long-lived, much adored Cibo Restaurant. Harry says she took a cocky young Chef, broke him down, then built him back up again to become the Harry she could see was brimming with potential. During the 10 plus years he’s worked on and off with Kate, she’s witnessed his transformation from kid to adult. She’s walked beside Harry through desperately difficult life experiences. His respect for Kate is palpable and enduring.
Harry took a break from kitchens to sort his not-yet-20 year old self out. He worked with an old boat-builder learning the art of fine precision joinery, shaping the kauri roof pods atop the stunningly renovated Auckland Art Gallery. Like many of young kiwis, he travelled the world, landing in Austria to run an all German speaking Bistro kitchen showcasing an authentic experience. There he learned that the language and rhythms of the kitchen are the same the world over. In Melbourne he worked with Mark Briggs (ex Vue du Monde) at The Shearing House when Mark was named Young Chef of the Year.
And so, at just 29, Harry has worked alongside many superstar Chefs. His dream it to own an orchard, feed the land, grow the food – animal and vegetable and to study the benefits of diet upon everything that he cultivates. And of course, he will feed us with his efforts. You’ll be visually, sensorily and emotionally coloured in the distinctive Harry Holroyd palette.