Internationally renowned Kiwi chef Nic Watt returns to NZ from London and a stellar career as chief operating officer of one of the planet’s most highly regarded Japanese restaurant groups - Roka, younger sibling to Zuma Restaurant Group.
Nic was born in Australia in 1973 but spent his teenage years in New Zealand and now carries a Kiwi passport. A family focus on cooking encouraged Nic into catering college. As a new graduate he moved to Japan in 1996 to sate his adventurous palate and passion for quality seafood.
It was at the Park Hyatt Tokyo that the traditions and perfection of the cuisine stirred Nic’s great love and passion for Japanese dishes. And it was there that he first met and worked with Rainer Becker, co-founder of the Zuma and Roka restaurant group.
Five years in the UK followed where Nic worked as chef de partie in London for the Michelin starred Japanese restaurant Nobu and as Chef de Cuisine at the Park Hyatt in Knightsbridge. In 2001 he headed home to become executive chef at Taupo’s renowned Huka Lodge.
In 2004 Nic accepted an offer from his mentor and friend Rainer Becker to return to London and launch Roka. Less than a year later it was awarded best oriental restaurant at the esteemed Tio Pepe Restaurant Awards in London 2005.
As chief operating officer and partner of the global Roka brand, Nic was responsible for the global expansion of ROKA to Macau, Hong Kong and Arizona as well as a second London restaurant in the Canary Wharf business district.