Time With
Matt Hawkes

Bar Mason



Time With
Matt Hawkes

Matt Hawkes

 What lead to you becoming a chef?

I never aspired to be a chef. No romantic childhood affinity with food. No super capable grandma teaching me the ropes. Rather, lots of travelling, partying, and not worrying about how I’d feel tomorrow, meant I had limited options.
Working in kitchens is something I’ve always enjoyed and have been (reasonably) good at. I like the comradery, fast pace, and pressure involved. For me, cooking is the perfect mix of creativity and hands-on skill based work. I don't really consider myself a chef, per say. More of a cowboy.

What is Bar Mason for you? and your style of cooking?

At the moment, if I’m honest, a ball and chain. But, at the same time, incredibly rewarding. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do; something I’ve always wondered if I could do.

It’s food I want to eat — seasonal, juicy and thoughtful.

Matt wears our Two Pocket Field Shirt in Olive, Bound T-Shirt in Bone and Five Pocket Selvedge Jean in Indigo.

What do you want people to experience when experiencing your form of hospitality at Bar Mason?

Welcome. I’ve got a big ‘come as you are’ sign above the front door and it’s true.

What is the inspiration and characteristics that makes Bar Mason, Bar Mason?

I think I get Inspiration from places doing similar stuff, places like The Black Hoof, or 10 Williams Street that appear effortlessly cool.

Our location characterises us — we’re on the outskirts of Wellington’s CBD (kind of). Tucked away down a quiet side street in Newtown. We share the neighbourhood with a bunch of different ethnicities and socio-economic groups, and some real characters. It’s a bit rough around the edges, like us. Inside the music’s loud (and more commonly than not, Bob Seger) and it’s dark. The food is saucy (a sign of generosity), the wine natural and the beer cold. 

Any tips you would give for anyone who enjoys cooking?

Cook seasonally, it’ll make your job easier. Use recipes as a guide, not gospel. And be confident, that’s half of it. 

Matt wears our Chore Shirt in Beige and Bound T-shirt in Bone.

Why is utilising local produce so important to you? and how much does it inspiration what ends up on the menu?

Using what’s in season makes sense to me, the fact it's grown locally is a bonus. Supporting local organic farms is important, they make my job easier and the quality of their products speaks for themselves in my food.

Entirely. It determines what we use, and when.

Is there any un-sung local produce in New Zealand everyone should be eating?

Kohlrabi. Surely everybody knows how f*cking good kohlrabi is by now?

Favourite cocktail?

Probably something with campari and vermouth in it. Although since opening Mason, I have been drinking almost all the “corpse reviver” remnants. Technically it’s not the fuel that runs the machine, more the oil that lubricates it.

Something sweet?

This is the one I was given, naturally I changed it. Because we aren't turning them out, I pulled the gelatine back, and rather than using icing sugar to sweeten it, I use honey. I like to burn the honey before putting it in, this changes the flavour in a good, more complex way. Oh, and to balance the sweetness, I bang in a couple big pinches of maldon salt.

Burnt Honey Panna Cotta by Matt Hawkes

Whisk together 

550g greek yoghurt
100g burnt honey
A couple big pinches of maldon salt

In a seperate pot bring to boil

125ml milk
125ml cream
1 vanilla pod

Soak 2.5L gelatine in water

Whisk into milk and cream mix

Combine with the yoghurt mix and pass. 

Pour and set into lightly greased moulds.