Chef Al Brown Shares Intimate Look at His Kitchen and Beloved Recipes


In the residence of distinguished chef Al Brown, where flawless functionality is pivotal, the kitchen reigns as the heart of the household. “This kitchen is almost an uncanny fit for this space,” Al Brown later expressed while putting his deft skills to work, slicing fennel for a midday meal. The hushed whispers of a softly bubbling dish dish carried through the apartment, symptomatic of his stature as a highly respected chef. Providentially, Al decided to share one of his favoured lunch recipes; a gesture of kitchen camaraderie.

The well-conceived design of the apartment’s kitchen was bestowed upon him when he moved in, and while he’s been living alone and hasn’t extensively engaged in entertaining guests since settling in, he does value the joyous company of his daughters during their weekly dinners. He’s a temporary tenant, leasing the area from friends who’ve domiciled in Los Angeles.

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“The Viking oven can be deemed excessive for a homely kitchen,” he jested, pointing out its unmatched prowess for scrambling eggs, “But what I am smitten with is the bearing of the countertop; I can remain involved in conversational ebbs and flows, maintain connection to the heart of the action, all while I immerse myself into the charms of cooking,” Brown enthused about his open concept kitchen.

His abode, decorated with strategically placed vintage furniture, exudes a relaxed ambience that echoes the causal and comfort-laden aesthetic of his cherished restaurants, Depot and Federal Deli. Size and splendour aside, his waterfront home in Northland, neighboured by the aesthetically pouring ocean waves, is another indispensable feather in his success-hat, a well-earned escape haven he retreats to whenever his schedule allows.

Brown reminisces about earning his culinary credentials in Vermont and his subsequent ventures, which cemented his standing in the world of cuisine. However, he confesses, the complex dance of managing fine dining and delivering an informal eating experience holds equal levels of strenuousness. Maintaining the allure of the casual takes a similarly meticulous orchestration of behind-the-scenes details.

Regarding his take on interior design, authenticity and swiftly achieved comfort for those he hosts are his guiding ideals. His living space and Bagels outlet bear the hallmark of informality, signaling his unswerving commitment to his preferred design ethos.

Brown conceded his past reliance on perfectionism, which he attributes to his adoption at birth and the resulting feelings of inadequacy. He admits to the hardships of his quest for achievement and his therapeutic endeavours to navigate through them, his life an ongoing testament to the dual human aims of success and self-awareness.

His path through the culinary landscape was not without hurdles. Brown credits his hard-won wisdom to the setbacks that arose from ill-fitted collaborations. Despite some ventures turning disastrous, the wisdom Brown gained has informed his approach to business and given him a renewed appreciation for appreciating the benefits of due diligence and value alignment.

Remaining in New Zealand in the trying times of the pandemic, his adoration for Aotearoa, the land he is proud to call home, is undeterred. His primary focus, to infuse his restaurants with lively and motivated teams, and his dedication to listen and stay inquisitive mirror his firm belief in paddle rowing through the uncertain waters together.

On self-care, Brown keeps it simple, seeking solace in a long morning walk. Furthermore, amidst the exhilarating energy of city life, he finds balance as he frequently decamps to his Northland retreat, finding peace amidst the serene whispers of the ocean.

A spirited entertainer with a flair for generous hospitality, Al demonstrates his discerning approach to a shared meal where his quintessential essentials—his favoured knives and pans, the humble microplane, and a well-conceived kitchen design—come to play in a comforting collaborative dance.

And for those aspiring to emulate his bruschetta, meticulously roasted fennel and red onion topped with white anchovies, are in for a treat as he generously shares his recipe. As he demonstrates, his world revolves around authenticity, connection and a heartening mix of delighting in life’s simple pleasures.