The Factory in Ahuriri opened with a heavy Italian influence back in 2010. With the recent arrival of experienced French chef Jean Vincent Corvest (you’ll be hearing more about Jean), The Factory have been mulling over their European culinary direction. We can tell you exclusively that The Factory has now rebranded as The Factory – French Bistro & Bar. Tim and Shiona McKimm remain as the faces of The Factory and both run the front of house. “It’s important that the owners have a presence in the business.” says Tim. “Our regulars enjoy seeing us out on the floor and that’s something that’s come about organically.” Tim and Shiona moved to Hawke’s Bay from Hamilton where they owned The Crazy Farmer restaurant. “We enjoy the locality here in Ahuriri and love being surrounded by wineries and good places to eat.” says Shiona.
French Bistro extends opening hours
In true Parisian Style, this french bistro is also extending their hours by opening earlier to capture the brunch / lunch crowd. “With the relaunch we’re going to open a bit earlier and will have a new menu that suits brunch and lunch French bistro style.” says Tim. French Kronenberg is also available by the pint on tap and is the ideal thirst quencher to enjoy in the sun drenched courtyard. I’m hoping that the blonde Kronenberg may also be added to the range. The Factory also extends weekend hours opening from lunch all the way through to dinner making it easier for Ahuriri visitors to drop in after picking up food supplies from courtyard neighbours Gourmet Direct and Vetro. Locals of course are welcome and already in the loop. “We’re here for Napier this side of the hill and the other.”
New Chef Jean Vincent Corvest
I ask Tim about the shift from Italian to French style. “We now have a genuine french chef in Jean and we have the credibility to run a French bistro.” It’s refreshing to hear a business willing to change it’s approach to market so they can call on the strengths of their team. Tim mentions that he spotted David Burton coming out of Vetro and introduced him to their new chef. “David talked with Jean, scribbling pages and pages. Jean has travelled and worked a lot through France and beyond. We’re looking forward to seeing David again.”
French classical with a twist… without the cliché
Jean Vincent Corvest joined me for a chat to hear his culinary journey around the world from France to Hawke’s Bay. “There’s an Asian side of cooking that was new to me when I arrived in New Zealand.” says Jean. “In France we have little asian while here there are plenty. I like the technicity of asian cooking and try and mix asian and french together. We are going to be french classical with a twist….without the cliché.” With Jean able to express his culinary creativity, he’s not wasting any time. “8 years ago I discovered tempura, it’s lightly battered and I fell in love with it. Something I made yesterday at home was tempura crayfish with a little bit of wasabi.” Duck breast, parmesan mash with anchovy fritter is another interesting take on a french classic that will be available on The Factory’s new menu. Jean Vincent has a strong depth of experience to draw on. “When I was back in London we did sushi and sashimi at Claridges. I was in Ireland before that and I enjoyed the smaller towns more than cities. Hawke’s Bay is great, and when the water is clear I can go spear fishing on Pania reef or Tangoio.” The Factory’s French Bistro heart and Jean’s heritage from Bretagne in the North West of France will ensure very traditional dishes are always available such as classic French onion soup and cassoulet. These dishes aren’t easily found done well around Hawke’s Bay.
If you’re coming back to The Factory to try their new French menu, it is promised to be a step forward and a step up. “This is the start of the journey.” says Jean. I can hear the passion in Jean’s voice that he wants to share all Pacific Rim influenced French dishes at once. “I’ve always wanted to cook scallops, cooked in lime juice with a bit of coconut cream, with fresh avocado and salsa with tempura pickled ginger and scallop roe. These things take a lot prep though so they’re in training mode for now. We’re keeping things simple, nicely done and reasonable.”
Reserve the restaurant and courtyard for your next business function
The capacity of The Factory to accommodate business functions has significantly improved. Although The Factory can take Christmas functions for up to 40 people for a sit down meal, they are receiving more enquiries for less structured events by Hawke’s Bay business. In response, Tim has drawn on a successful concept he was part of in Auckland. “Business have to do something for their team, but sometimes don’t want to do another sit down meal. For groups of 40 or more, we’re offering a Christmas Barbecue with BBQ foods of the world. There will be five BBQ stations setup in our courtyard cooking Spanish, German, French, Japanese and Italian. It adds an entertainment element.” Groups also get the exclusive use of both the restaurant and courtyard. Availability is mid Nov to mid Dec and Tim and Shiona don’t mind if you come in at midday to leave by 6pm or prefer things to start late afternoon. What you will need to do is book. You can get in touch for French Bistro bookings or Christmas functions on 06 835 8868. The Factory has also joined twitter as @FactoryHB with Shiona learning the ropes on tweeting out news from the French Bistro.
- The Factory has rebranded as The Factory – French Bistro & Bar. Tweet
- The Factory is Ahuriri’s first french restaurant. Fantastique!. Tweet
- Pacific Rim influenced French dishes now available at The Factory. Tweet