A considered and clever daytime eatery, Spectra opens in the central city

Situated in the expansive, light and airy Sky Lobby of Commercial Bay’s impressive new PwC Tower, Spectra is the new cafe making a destination out of a corporate space.

Owned by Roger Liu, whose roster of eateries includes Albany-based Fields and Percy near Auckland Airport under his hospitality group Woozoo, Spectra aims to occupy that liminal, in-between space separating the workplace and the home with appeal and polish.

Whether the intention is to grab breakfast or lunch on the go, or to sit-down for business or leisure, visitors will find a lot to love within Spectra’s clever, considered selection of dishes, all designed by Woozoo Group executive chef Logan Wang.

Space Studio designed lobby

As well as favourites like eggs and toast, and a wholesome porridge, the all-day-breakfast menu includes a variety of both sweet and savoury bruschetta; we’re talking stracciatella with grapefruit segments, chai preserved figs and honey comb; avocado with kimchi tempura, a salty yet sweet sprinkle of olive sugar and cherry tomatoes; and prosciutto with goat feta, tomato, basil and lemon oil.

For fungi lovers, the mushroom medley is a beautifully creamy plate of juicy mushrooms tossed with cashew cream and served with a gauzy spinach crepe, topped with pine nuts for texture.

Spectra’s house crumpet arrives with orange-infused labneh, honeycomb and poached seasonal fruit — delicious alongside locally-made drinks like Batchwell kombucha or organic Zealong tea.

The crumpet with orange labneh, honeycomb and poached tamarillo.

The lunch menu is purposefully concise, catering to busy people who don’t want to spend valuable minutes poring over a complicated, over-reaching selection.

A rotation of daily salads can be eaten alone or supplemented with chicken, sirloin beef or fish. The chicken, we can attest, is incredibly moist and tender thanks to its treatment in a sous vide before being finished on the grill, making for a satisfying and healthy lunch.

The pasta and burger option will also be regularly changing — currently it’s a very enticing bolognese and a crispy chicken burger — and for those wishing to grab lunch on the go, there’s a separate takeaway counter filled to the brim with delicious sandwiches, wraps, salads and baked goods.

Find an array of cabinet food available for those on the go

Spectra emphasises fresh, in-season produce from local suppliers throughout, with Kōkako Organic Coffee providing the beans for each delicious cup of coffee, and a state-of-the-art Modbar coffee machine pouring the perfect brew. The cafe is also fully licensed, with Brothers Beer on tap and a selection of bottled beer, plus a curation of mainly New Zealand wines along with champagne and prosecco.

Beyond the Warren and Mahoney-designed lobby, with interiors by Space Studio, there is an attractive outdoor terrace which, come summer, the team hopes will host outdoor yoga classes and the like — with refreshments provided by Spectra, of course.

Sitting in amongst the tables of humming activity within the Sky Lobby’s airy space, it feels like the city has got its groove back, with Spectra in the ideal spot to provide quality fare to discerning diners.

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00AM — 4:00PM
Saturday and Sunday: Closed

PwC Tower, Sky Lobby
Level 7, 15 Customs Street West
Auckland CBD
09 302 1188


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Discover blue light glasses, the clever accessory that combines fashion and function

The fight for a soothing eight hours of peaceful slumber is a far too common ailment. But if the recent crop of relaxed and rested Hollywood stars extolling the virtues of glasses with blue light filters to combat today’s technological causes of insomnia is anything to go by, we’re all eyes.

 “The first thing to know about blue light is that it is a normally occurring part of the natural environment,” says optometrist Geoff Parker of Auckland eyewear specialist Parker & Co.

“Blue light is how humans regulate their sleep patterns, we are wired in a way that exposure to blue light suppresses melatonin production. In simple terms melatonin makes us sleep and if we are exposed to excess blue light, we don’t release enough melatonin and as a consequence we don’t sleep so well.”

From left: Optical frames from Griffith; Kathryn, Ichi and Projekt Produkt available from Parker & Co

 The excess of blue light in our lives, is largely emitted from technology, such as computer screens, phones and even our wired watches. “There is also growing evidence that excess blue light exposure over many years causes serious retinal problems such as age-related macular degeneration,” Parker warns. “This is a condition that causes loss of central vision in elderly people and is effectively a major problem for a sufferer.”

With research continuing in this area it’s not surprising that Parker has seen an increase in enquiries for blue light filters from customers who have difficulty reducing screen time. ”What we prescribe and use is a protective layer that is put onto the surface of a lens that reflects blue light so it can’t enter the eye, much like sunscreen for the eyes.”

Blue light filters can be selected at the time you order your new Celine, Moscot, Garrett Leight or Gucci opticals, but they can also be made and applied to almost any prescription lens. “We also make a non prescription blue light filtered lens for those who don’t need a prescription but want to reap the sleep benefits of blocking the blue light.” 


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Studio Italia’s Valeria Carbonaro-Laws on guilty pleasures and 30 years in the design game

Considering her Italian upbringing and education in law, it’s hardly surprising that Valeria Carbonaro-Laws’ business Studio Italia has gone from strength to strength under her passionate leadership. Now the exclusive New Zealand stockist for a number of famed design brands, including Poliform, Knoll, Poltrona Frau, Living Divani and Kettal, Studio Italia has been responsible for furnishing some of the finest houses in New Zealand — such is the precision of Carbonaro-Laws’ eye, and the quality of the collections she brings in.

Exuding a clear passion for her work that extends to her staff and clients, Carbonaro-Laws has established herself as the unofficial matriarch of Italian design in New Zealand. Here, she offers a few pearls of wisdom, from her father’s seminal advice to her favourite guilty pleasures, and why a sabbatical is on the cards.  

I had to work harder to be taken seriously. I arrived in New Zealand almost 30 years ago and started working in design almost immediately. But my background was in law (a far cry from the beautiful world of furniture design and interiors) and because of my lack of experience and ‘creative English,’ I had to work harder to be heard. I guess you could call it tenacity, but it really was a drive to make my business successful. It might sound a bit corny but now, I genuinely love coming to work every morning. Seeing my staff and talking to clients gives me a real buzz. I love people, and I find that I really thrive when I have human contact. Also, of course, being Italian and having the opportunity to work with the best Italian brands in the world, made this job feel like a natural fit from the get-go.

My father told me when I was a teenager: “You must enjoy the little pleasures that life gives you every day, don’t just wait for the big ones.” At the time it sounded so boring but now I really get it and I couldn’t agree more. 

Transparency and honesty are the two traits I value most. So, of course, they are a must in a business partner. I need someone as driven and as hardworking as me otherwise the partnership can feel unbalanced. Someone with the same goals but different skills, so that we can challenge and complement each other.

My dad was my inspiration. He was an incredible human: kind and adventurous, incredibly intelligent and cultured. He learnt to fly planes and to sail across the Atlantic ocean. And when he finished his career as a lawyer, he started acting onstage in big, important Milanese theatres. Everything he did in his life, he did to perfection (including creating me, clearly!).

I feel most proud watching my daughter. I’m a mother, first and foremost, and seeing her grow into an incredible human being is so special. She reminds me of my father. Professionally speaking, I also feel extremely proud of how Studio Italia has evolved over the last 15 years. We get so much positive feedback from our suppliers, and considering that we operate in a small country, it makes me feel so happy. I owe this all to our clients, of course. Kiwis have a great appetite for good design.

True leaders mentor, they don’t over-manage. It’s a trait I’ve always been impressed by. Many of the people I look up to also seem to be able to strike a sustainable balance between their work lives and their private lives. 

If you love what you do, then you do it with love, and that, to me, is the root of success. The success I’ve enjoyed also comes down to the fact that I’m a good communicator. I love talking to people and understanding their wants and needs. 

I am not a morning person. I am a night owl so I hardly ever get up before 7am. I have a coffee straight away before I start talking to my wonderful family. I love to start the day with a call to my friends or family in Italy.

Motivation is not what I am lacking… it’s relaxation that’s my problem! I have tried meditation many times, but I’ve been trying to do it every day. Now that we are back with the craziness of work, however, I often don’t find the time.

I just love indulging. I have so many guilty pleasures, really too many to mention. But nothing beats a lunch with shaved prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella and a cold glass of rosé. I also love finishing dinners with a glass of the Nottambulo Limoncello, which we have been making with friends for the last three years. The process is just as fun as the end result!

No matter how busy I am, I always make time for clients. I realised long ago the importance of responding to clients immediately. Even when I am frantic and can’t do much more, I make sure that before the day is over, I reply to any inquiries. 

My husband is who I turn to in a crisis (and always). He is there for me in a calm, collected way and he knows what to say and how to help me. Although sometimes he makes me mad too. I call him often during my day, not just in times of crisis. We don’t work together but he helps me a lot by offering different perspectives and business ideas.

My catch phrase would be, Non piangere sul latte versato…. Don’t cry over spilled milk…… do you say that in NZ too? Basically it means get on with it, move forward and don’t dwell on things that you can’t change.  

I wish I had known how enjoyable owning a business would be. And that, ultimately, it was going to go well. It would have saved me so many stressful moments.

I have always wanted to take a sabbatical. A year travelling the world and meeting people of every culture. It’s something I think everyone should think about doing.


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A love of cars and custom design collide in a home built for high gear entertaining

Normally people park their love of cars in the garage when conjuring their dream home but for this young family with boys, the aesthetics of automobiles were part of the original brief.

“The client’s love of fine automobiles played a crucial role in the inclusion of precision detailing and durable materials,” says interior designer Miriam Fanning, founder of Mim Design, who collaborated on the project with architect Emma Tulloch. “Integration and visual appeal were essential in creating a home that exuded luxury, exemplifying modern family liveability.”

B&B Italia Oskar table from Matisse
Baxter Chester Moon sofa from Cavit & Co and the Poliform Mondrian coffee table from Studio Italia

While the owner’s collection of model automobiles is a direct representation of car-centric creativity, the remaining details in the modernist Melbourne residence nod more subtly to their design heritage, with aerodynamic curves dominating the generous wine room’s expansive display. 

“The curvature also creates an amphitheatre effect with the central wine table being the focus within the cellar, where theatre, entertaining and the collection all meld together,” Fanning says. 

Cars were even at the back of the designer’s mind when selecting furniture, focusing on pieces that would age as gracefully as a vintage Jaguar while delivering impact on arrival. 

Ligne Roset togo from Domo 

“It was imperative that our clients accrue a collection of pieces that were both classic and emerging in design,” Fanning says. “Whether it’s the seafoam green tufted Chester Moon Sofa by Baxter greeting its residents in the formal living room, or the fine brass Avoa Chair by Matter Made anchoring the commissioned Colin Pennock painting, these pieces have been carefully positioned to tell a unique story.”

The story of the award-winning, open-plan kitchen, dominated by a stone island, is easier to interpret. While the stone delivers a memorable monolithic moment, this is a place for serious entertaining, with the black and stainless appliances merging seamlessly with custom timber veneers.

“The design of this project does not deliver a themed look but a custom approach to kitchen design incorporating a timeless aspect with the use of authentic, visually aesthetic materials and product selection,” Fanning says. “Quality and authenticity are an integral element to sustainability.”

Brokis Capsula pendant from ECC
Lee Broom Fulcrum candlestick from ECC

While stone offers considerable challenges when creating a cosy home environment, conquered by Fanning’s holistic approach, it was custom details such as the living room fireplace and the cocktail cabinet, offering visual temptation from the formal dining area, that tested the team’s design skills.

“These aspects were challenging and also rewarding as the design was worked through to every millimetre from each material to junction joint to working with 1:1 as built prototypes,” Fanning recalls.

Even with hefty materials and considerable customisation, the home proceeded from concept to moving-in at a speed normally reserved for German autobahns, taking a mere two years.

“Our proudest moment was looking at our clients’ faces as they entered the completed home,” Fanning says. “From a design perspective, the planning, flow, customisation through to delivery, getting that right, feeling that space and knowing everything you have worked through is executed to a craftsmanship high level is a very proud moment that stays with us forever.”


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The Last Dance

The best documentaries and docu-series to watch right now

An evening spent devouring episode after episode of the latest binge-worthy series? Indulgent. An evening spent glued to a juicy documentary? Educational. Simply put, there’s always a good excuse to expand your horizons with the latest and greatest in documentary filmmaking.

From the utterly engrossing to the incredibly uplifting, these are the documentaries and docu-series you must make time to watch.

Beastie Boys Story
Written and directed by Spike Jonze, this hotly-anticipated documentary sees Beastie Boys Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz divulge personal stories that span across their band, their fame and 40 years of friendship. Watch on Apple TV

Hot on the heels of The Goop Lab‘s vampire facials and magic mushroom teas, this new Netflix documentary asks an important question: ‘Are we falling victim to false promises?’. (Un)Well examines the incredibly lucrative wellness industry, the controversial products and therapies it touts, and the people choosing to use them. Watch on Netflix

The NZ International Film Festival
Discerning doco fans know the annual NZIFF offers one of the best opportunities to see the year’s most highly-anticipated documentary films. This year’s festival gives the audience the opportunity to stream selected films (like The Kingmaker) from home for a truly unique experience. See our full round-up of must-watch picks from NZIFF 2020

This eye-opening and important documentary focuses on transgender representation in Hollywood, how historically problematic on-screen stereotypes and tropes have been, and in turn what effect this has had on trans people’s lives and American culture. Watch on Netflix

Dick Johnson Is Dead
In this funny and poignant rumination on life and death, filmmaker Kirsten Johnson comes to terms with the fate of her father as he battles Alzheimer’s. Heartfelt and moving, Johnson works with her father to stage his death in various ways, until accepting the inevitability of his situation. Watch on Netflix

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Starting at Camp Jened, a free-spirited camp designed for teens with disabilities, this award-winning documentary followers the inspiring stories of campers who became activists for the disability rights movement in the 1970s. Watch on Netflix

The Truffle Hunters
Set in the forests of Northern Italy, a fertile site for sourcing the much-coveted (and rare) white Alba truffle, this documentary follows a small group of dogs and their elderly Italian owners — the only ones who can find the truffle — as they strive to keep the tricks of their trade secret. Coming soon

The Last Dance
If you haven’t watched this wildly popular series, we recommend you do so immediately. Following the career of era-defining basketball star, Michael Jordan and his time with the Chicago Bulls, the series features never-seen-before footage, a delightfully nostalgic soundtrack and moments that will remind you why the Jordan name will live forever in legend. Watch on Netflix

Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich
This series takes a stark look at the details of the Jeffrey Epstein case and the lives ruined by his sordid dealings. Pulling the curtain back on his high-profile associates, and how Epstein used his influence to get what he wanted, this is an upsetting but essential watch. Watch on Netflix

Examining the story behind the fraud that marred McDonalds’ Monopoly game, this six-episode series delves into how, between 1989 and 2001, US$24million was won in a competition rigged by someone who figured out how to cheat the system. Watch on Neon

I’ll Be Gone In The Dark
Based on the best-selling book by late author Michelle McNamara, this chilling six-part true-crime series follows McNamara’s dogged investigation into the then unsolved crimes of The Golden State Killer, a serial killer and predator who terrorised California throughout the 1970s and 80s. Unflinching in its examination of both obsession and loss, Oscar-winning director Liz Garbus masterfully brings this complex tale to life. Watch on Neon

Athlete A
In a year of spectacular sports documentaries (like the aforementioned The Last Dance), Athlete A should be considered the most important. The docu-series shines a spotlight on the shocking crimes of Olympic doctor Larry Nassar, the toxic organisation that actively covered it up, and the brave survivors who fought against the system that was set against them. Watch on Netflix

Go behind-the-scenes with former First Lady Michelle Obama as she embarks on a blockbuster tour for her best-selling memoir of the same name. The film (produced by the Obama’s own production company) tells Michelle’s story — from her humble roots to her history-making turn in the White House and beyond. Watch on Netflix


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Mike Thorburn. Photo: Jeremy Hooper

My inspirations: ECC’s Mike Thorburn on the one thing to consider when designing a home

As the figurehead of a family business that was started by his grandfather in 1909, Mike Thorburn not only has an undeniable eye for impeccable design, but is also one of the local industry’s most adored personalities. Passionate about making world-class exceptional design available to New Zealanders, here he shares some insight into his inspiring world.

“I’m forever inspired by European culture, its history is so rich. I feel pretty blessed that my work allows me to be exposed to such history and immense creativity. I’ve been to the Milan Fair annually for the past 40 years, I still come away from Italy feeling totally inspired and excited for what is happening next.

When I’m in Milan, I always make the effort to get together for dinner with many of our suppliers, I also love to catch up with designer Marcel Wanders. Not only is he a very funny man, he has an incredibly creative mind and our conversations just flow. We could talk all night.

Lawrence Sofa by Minotti from ECC

I think as a business we relate so well with the Italians. We’ve worked with the Minotti and Guzzini families for decades. As a family business, we carry and value a deep sense of connection with our clients and suppliers. It’s these relationships and the strong family bond that makes for great business.

My sons and I have a huge focus on relationships, we’ve worked with so many of our clients across generations, and many of them have become our friends.

If there’s one thing people need to consider more when they are designing homes it’s the lighting. The architects we work with do this so well. We are constantly working on new projects around the country and I’m always amazed at what we achieve with the latest lighting technology.

From left: Portofino chair by Minotti from ECC; Superloon light by Flos from ECC

Classics never go out of style. The most iconic designs we have carried over the last 30 years, such as Artemide’s Tolomeo lamp by Michele De Lucchi, which proves to be just as popular today.

Similarly, I love classic pieces, my favourites are the Portofino chair by Minotti and the Superloon light by Flos. You also cannot go wrong by choosing a sofa that is classic.

A sofa should be comfortable, durable and timeless. The Italians are masters of this balance, in particular Minotti who reliably offer a structured aesthetic with comfort and abiding appeal.

Cloud Pendant by Apparatus from ECC

I’m really noticing a strong movement towards people wanting things that are both original and organic in nature. Brands such as Anna Karlin, Apparatus Studio and Henge create spectacular pieces of furniture and lighting that are sculptural and finished in a manner that makes them truly one of a kind.

I just finished watching the first virtual release of the 2020 Minotti Collection and I was blown away. They do so well to reinvent their designs year after year. The latest collection features more tactile and organic details, I think everybody is wanting to feel more connected to the environment at the moment.”


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With a new breed of electric vehicles, BMW is steering the planet towards a better future

Despite brands throwing the term around like a tired tennis ball, ‘luxury’ remains the definitive description for cars that are the ultimate expression of form and function. Comfortably laying claim to this status in the past were vehicles that merely managed to combine cool craftsmanship with cutting edge technology and a sense of pride that lasted longer than that inimitable new vehicle scent. But today’s drivers want more than just elegance and attitude.

True luxury with cars is no longer just about the impressive destinations you will head to when you accelerate out of the showroom but the journey your vehicle has already been on before you take the driver’s seat. It’s something that BMW not only understands but has been putting into practice for well over a decade, making sustainability as great a priority
as safety and comfort. 

“There is a proven correlation between affluent consumers and demands for sustainable products – BMW Group is at the forefront of this trend,” says Karol Abrasowicz-Madej, managing director of BMW New Zealand. With BMW controlling more than a quarter of the luxury car market in this country, the impact of this concerned customer base going greener is seriously significant. 

While in the past many of the premier German auto manufacturer’s environmentally-conscious practises have taken a backseat to other features, in 2020 and 2021 sustainability is front and centre with the release of increasingly efficient electric models, setting a new burnished benchmark for luxury.

The eagerly awaited X3 xDrive30e PHEV all-wheel drive petrol-electric crossover will join the popular SUV line-up, as the seventh electrified BMW to arrive on our shores. “We like to give our customers the opportunity to select a vehicle fit for them, giving them the power of choice,” Abrasowicz-Madej says. “The advanced BMW PHEV system in the X3 xDrive30e is ideal for those who want to take the first step towards an electric future.”

The plug-in hybrid has a consumption of between 2.1–2.4 litres per 100km, emitting only 49–54 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre. On top of this the X3 xDrive30e can reach up to 135km/h on battery power alone, depending on the driving mode, and will recharge using a BMW iWallbox in only three and a half hours.

Driving the sustainability message even further, the iX3 SUV will be fully electric, producing zero emissions, along with zero noise pollution, as it silently glides along country roads with a range of 440km, making use of the company’s fifth-generation e-drive technology.

This is just the beginning of a brighter outlook from your windshield, with other ecologically-conscious models, such as an i4 Gran Coupe on the way, but there are hidden depths to BMW’s greening of your garage that are not immediately apparent when you first buckle up.

While cars can be customised using ethically-sourced upholstery and recycled plastics, it’s beneath the bonnet that the sustainability game has dramatically changed, with BMW taking responsibility last year for the sourcing of materials used in the all important electric vehicles. 

Lithium is now sourced directly for BMW batteries from hard rock deposits in Australia under the strictest sustainability standards. “We are fully aware of our responsibilities: Lithium and other raw materials must be extracted and processed under ethically responsible conditions,” says Dr Andreas Wendt, a member of the Board of Management of BMW.

While there are serious concerns about the sourcing of lithium by other manufacturers from mines in Africa where child labour is employed, BMW now controls its supply chain from Australia, where greater regulations are enforced.

Supply chain confidence is now an important part of the new luxury experience, where taking pride in owning a BMW can extend far beyond the signature badge. You can still pick from a selection of colours for your upcoming hybrid and electric vehicles but beneath the surface your investment is significantly greener and that should remain in fashion for a much better future.


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Omni's katsu sando.

Omni is the restaurant bringing yakitori and natural wine to Dominion Rd

Word has been buzzing about Omni, the newest addition to Dominion Road that’s got foodies flocking to the city fringe.

Describing their 25-seat venue as a bar-estaurant, owners John Yip and Jamie Yeon are running a smart yet approachable operation with a succinct, tasty and original menu alongside an excellent wine list of predominantly natural wines. 

The duo says they were inspired by the concept of an izakaya where eating and drinking go hand in hand, and while Omni is not a Japanese restaurant, its menu comprises both a selection of yakitori and small sharing dishes.

The food also champions chef Yip’s love for cooking over fire, which he discovered while working in Norway.

“I’m not really into technology. I like using intuition,” he says. “I find it much more satisfying, cooking over fire… it imparts bigger flavours and is all about touch, smell and feel.”

From left: Meatballs, egg yolk tare (dipping sauce); Octopus

The art and technique of yakitori was then honed at famed Hong Kong yakitori restaurant Yardbird, sparking the idea for something back in Auckland. 

Cooked on a specially-designed grill from Tokyo, the skewers make for variety-filled eating. The dishes are seasonal and evolving, but you might find the likes of chicken meatballs served with a whole gleaming egg yolk, for dipping; chicken thighs with green onion; or grilled octopus. 

Whipped snapper with bread

In the next section down, sharing dishes like the raw fish with salted yuzu and white soy, the katsu sando and the whipped snapper are all must-order.

Fresh and deceptively simple, the raw fish dish sings with its base of the creamy, slightly tangy white soy spread. You’ll gobble up the katsu sando with its juicy, handground, panko-coated chicken patty, and the whipped snapper appears as a moreish dip served alongside warm, fluffy bread.

There is also a selection of vegetable-focused dishes, which will evolve with the seasons, and a set menu which allows diners to leave the ordering to the experts and try a selection of the full offering.

From left: Katsu sando; Raw fish with salted yuzu and white soy

The wine list has been curated to pair brilliantly with Omni’s grilled flavours. Featuring minimal intervention, organic and biodynamic wines from New Zealand, Australia and France, you’ll find interesting and delicious sparkling, white, red and orange drops. There are also highball cocktails and a small selection of locally-brewed beers.

With Yeon taking great care of diners front-of-house and Yip working his magic over the grill, Omni will have you planning your next trip back as soon as you leave.

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Saturday: 5:30PM – 10:00PM
Sunday and Monday: Closed

359 Dominion Road, Mount Eden


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Lucien Law

Restaurateur Lucien Law on his recipe for success and why positivity isn’t everything

After a successful international career in advertising, Lucien Law now sits firmly at the head table of the New Zealand’s hospitality scene as the co-founder of Savor Group, which includes Azabu, Ostro, Ebisu and NSP among its bulging stable of excellent eateries. We asked Law to reveal the ingredients of his happiness and success.

I got into this industry initially because my father owned restaurants. He sold them when I was 12 years old. I have done almost every job in hospitality at some stage. From dishwashing, working as a glassy, waitering and cooking, to managing restaurants and bars.

At some stage, while at Waikato University, I fell into advertising and got a job as a copywriter which I enjoyed. It took me to London where I worked at Saatchi & Saatchi and other agencies, but after 10 years of advertising I’d had enough and opened up my first restaurant in Auckland, Ebisu. Customers are much more enjoyable than clients. Frankly, I got into restaurants and bars because I like restaurants and bars a lot.

I think because we have a number of restaurants people think I’m not in the detail or driving the menus. Nothing could be further from the truth, I spend 90 percent of my day in the weeds and that’s fine with me.

The best piece of advice I was given was stay out of prison. The food is shit and the sex is worse.

And the worst piece of advice was “just be positive”. I think this sets people up for a mental health nightmare. If you’re overly optimistic you don’t consider all the risks. Beware of the happy clappers.

I think the Auckland hospitality scene is changing and it’s a fantastic time to be getting into it if you have a great idea. With change comes opportunities for up-and-coming chefs and new food ideas. Auckland has a runaway ‘foodie’ culture. Diners are looking for so much more from their restaurant experience than ever before.

I generally make big decisions by trying not to make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions. Restaurants are fuelled by the emotions of a lot of people. It’s important to take a step back before you make changes that are hard to turn around again.

The success of a restaurant hinges on one thing, customers leaving happier than when they arrived. It’s that simple. So the best part of my day is getting that right.

When you’re serving in the vicinity of 500,000 meals a year, I guess at times, of course we’re going to get it wrong. But it hurts every time you hear or read about us fucking up. It’s very personal.

Right now, post Covid it’s been invigorating to see people’s desire to get back out to restaurants. It certainly reminds me that at their best, restaurants serve a higher purpose than to just put food and drink on tables. We help fill a need for basic human connection, something you don’t realise is important until it’s taken away.

I’ve always wanted to do something worthwhile. I can see now I should have been much more specific.

There is no one person I attribute my success to, but I think my family’s work ethic has played a huge part. Starting with my Great Grandfather who arrived in New Zealand from China in 1903 to become a market gardener in South Auckland.

That entrepreneurial gene is strong in my family. At times my parents and my four siblings have all been running their own successful business at the same time. Being the youngest in the family and witnessing all of that was intoxicating. I think I was always going to be working for myself.

I really want to be travelling the world bite by bite.

I envy people who have faith. I don’t believe in anything supernatural. But in some way, I envy people that do, because it must be soothing to have an imaginary friend looking down at you from a cloud.

I can tell in two minutes if you make good coffee.

Everyone needs a friend who can tactfully tell them the truth.

Food should be delicious, but at its finest have a sense of place within its community.

Often the perfect restaurant experiences have little to do with the food itself. Choose your company wisely.

There is nothing worse than restaurateurs talking about restaurants.

I feel sorry for people who are cheap tippers or rude to their server. In the words of the late, great Anthony Bourdain, “If you’re a cheap tipper or rude to your server, you are dead to me”.

The motto I live by is: Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.


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I tried to combat my dull, dry winter skin and here’s what happened

Since I was a teenager, I have suffered from a common seasonal predicament better known as winter skin — a dry, flaky, lacklustre complexion damaged by the varying conditions we are exposed to during the colder months. 

Because of this, my quest for a plump, luminous glow 365 days of the year has been a long and expensive one. Having tried countless serums, balms and magic potions to achieve this, none have so far provided the ultimate hydration my skin has been thirsty for — until now.

Already an enthusiastic convert to Emma Lewisham’s cult beauty products — I have been using the Skin Reset Serum and Daily Antioxidant Moisturiser religiously for the last six months — I was intrigued when I heard she was releasing Supernatural, a 100 percent natural night range, that promised to keep my skin hydrated for 72 hours. 

Always the optimist, I began what I was hoping was my final campaign for the pursuit of plump, dewy skin with the two new additions to Emma Lewisham’s already high-performing family. 

After going about my regular nighttime routine — a gentle cleanse followed by the Skin Reset Serum — I applied the Triple Retinol A+ Face Oil. What I like about this product is that it is created using Bakuchoil, a 100 percent natural vitamin A derivative, which increases the natural production of hyaluronic acid in the skin’s layers.

As the body’s natural hyaluronic acid inventory stops regenerating and gradually depletes after the age of 30, it’s essential to find a product that can restore this, and Bakuchoil is proven to be just as effective as synthetic forms of retinol without any symptoms associated with the chemical iteration like irritation, dryness and redness. 

A little goes a long way, so I definitely overindulged the first time I used it, but it felt light and nourishing, as opposed to heavy and greasy, which is a winning factor for me.

After letting the face oil absorb I applied a generous helping of the 72-Hour Hydration Crème. Again, a small pea-size helping is plenty. Waking up the following morning, I was excited to find this product had lived up to its claims, hydrating my skin with its 30 high-performing ingredients. One of these is the deeply hydrating pentavitin, which is scientifically proven to remain in the skin’s epidermis for 72 hours, whereas ingredients like hyaluronic acid diminish after just three hours. 

With such effective ingredients, it comes as no surprise that the bold claims of this product were backed up by actual results. Not only do the Triple Retinol A+ Face Oil and 72-Hour Hydration Crème aid lack of moisture, both formulations also mitigate signs of ageing and regenerate collagen production. We can’t complain about that. 

Having used this product for the last four weeks, it is safe to say that Emma Lewisham has concluded my quest for hydrating skincare. If you too are on the same journey, I suggest you investigate what these products could do for your skin — I think you’ll find a plump, dewy visage is now firmly within reach.


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