Indigenous | Cooking

Chef duo Kārena and Kasey Bird bring pop up ‘kai and storytelling’ to Auckland

MasterChef New Zealand winners Kasey and Kārena Bird have taken their award-winning pop up restaurant to Tāmaki Makaurau.

The pop-up restaurant includes a a six-course degustation menu, a welcome cocktail and an immersive dinning experiencing inspired by atua Māori and the taiao.

Kasey Bird (Te Arawa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Manawa) said the menu draws on their whakapapa and upbringing.

“Making the steam pudding is something my mum learnt from her mum who’s now taught me, then I share with other people. For us, kai is such a love language.”

‘More than just food on a plate’

She said the pop-up style of restaurant suited the needs of their lives and how they preferred to work.

“Pop up suits us and how we like to live our life because we like flexibility. Having a pepi now, I can create my life so I can spend time with him and also be able to go and create these experiences for other people to come.

“I think for us it creates flexibility and we can change. We find it hard to do the same thing. A restaurant for us might not be the best fit in terms of having to be like staying in the same place and doing the same thing.”

‘Māori love kai and it’s such a connector’

Her sister Kārena Bird said the majority of customers were Māori and for a lot of them it was their first degustation menu.

“It’s cool, our dinner, because we do like a six-course degustation and each of the courses is related to an atua Māori. We’ll have audio clips that’ll sort of talk about their atua and explain the dish.

“It’s sort of education for people who don’t know but also representation for Māori who come.”

The restaurant is based at Te Mahurehure marae with their last dinner on May 26.

Additional video: Alex Ewan