THERES NO PLACE LIKE (A REMINDER OF) HOME
Its Tuesday late afternoon and despite working a frantic six days Xoong Restaurant Manager Ellie Price is full of warmth and enthusiasm. As she makes her way from behind the coffee machine armed with a strong caffeine fix, she is happy to chew the fat about her journey from one village to another, here in Aotearoa.
Q. Where are you from?
A. I’m from the UK. Southwest England in Dorset. I’ve been in hospitality since I was 13, working my way up from kitchenhand. When I was 22, I managed a pub for three years before heading to NZ a year and a half ago. My childhood was great, full of activities – camping trips, being outdoors, swimming in local rivers and exploring the Jurassic Coastline. My mum is a hairdresser (*she has great hair) and my dad restores classic cars. They both own their own businesses and work very hard.
Q. Why New Zealand?
A. I wanted to see the world. I spent a lot of time in a very small town similar to here, where everyone knows everyone. You spend your life around these amazing people but there’s always more to see. My sister had been here as well, and she loved it. I applied for one year and I’ve enjoyed it so much that I applied for a second year. I also met my partner here – so that changes everything.
Q. What do you like about running a business in the village?
A. I love it. It reminds me of back home. It’s the community feel. I set a table the other evening in our courtyard, and as I brought them in, the people seated at the table next to them were friends. There was cheering and hugs and a really nice catch up. Considering we are a large restaurant; this happens quite a lot. It creates a really nice atmosphere, which makes me smile.
Q. What was your first memory of Mt Eden Village?
A. I remember walking past Circus Circus in the evening. Seeing all the fairy lights and the Lion outside. Then seeing the Chinese lanterns outside Xoong alongside the small bookshop and feeling the excitement you get when you first arrive in a place you haven’t been before. It just looked so pretty and quirky and gave me this warm, homely feeling.
Q. What do you do in your time off?
A. My partner works days while I work nights, we are both very busy people. On our days off together, we like to go off-roading. He has a truck, so we drive down to the beach. I also like to go skateboarding in Cornwall Park. Next on my list is a trip to Mount Taranaki and the Huka Falls.
Q. What was the last good book and TV series you’ve watched?
A. I love reading. My last book was a children’s novel called Inkheart, about a girl and her father, who reads characters out of books. It was amazing. I felt like I was getting lost in the magical world’s books create for you when you’re younger. I couldn’t put it down! I’m currently in the middle of watching Suits. Every time Megan Markle comes on the screen my partner would shout ‘treason’! (laughs). She’s actually very good.
Q. What tips can you give your readers about what your business has to offer?
A. Our menu is designed to share. Our concept is that you come in as a group or a couple and pick a couple of dishes and you share them. It’s a nice way to relax and get everything at a leisurely pace. We also do handcrafted cocktails. We do alot of crossover with ingredients used in the kitchen and what we use behind the bar as well. We like to use Southeast Asian spices and herbs.
As I make my exit beneath the canopy of lanterns it strikes me that people like Ellie reflect how special Mt.Eden Village is not only in Auckland, but the world.
To check out this amazing restaurant visit: www.xoong.co.nz