Hospitality Business Magazine

Judith Tabron unveils new Westhaven Marina venture

First Mates, Last Laugh, restaurant guru Judith Tabron’s latest restaurant offering, officially opens on April 18 at Auckland’s Westhaven Marina – the Southern Hemisphere’s largest recreational marina.

Bookings are now open and a soft opening will be held this weekend where the newly appointed team for the predominantly seafood restaurant, will entertain supporters and industry stalwarts.

Executive Chef Cezar Takahashi, recently of Ponsonby’s Azabu restaurant fame, has developed a fresh menu appealing to the fun locality of the venue which sports crisp clean seating, modern lighting and décor.

Executive Chef Cezar Takahashi

“First Mates, Last Laugh’s website quotes Tabron as saying: “Kiwis love the ocean; we naturally gravitate toward the water when thinking about dining and where we feel most calm. We want ‘First Mates, Last Laugh’ to be an inviting, fun and friendly neighbourhood spot that is perfect for occasion dining, but also a place to pop into for a wine and small bite after a walk along the waterfront.”

Amy Burton has joined the executive team as Operations Manager along with Steve Mann as Director.

‘First Mates, Last Laugh’ boasts 330 square metres indoors (and similar in outdoor courtyard space) at 121 Westhaven Drive. The space, designed and executed by Material Creative has drawn inspiration from its natural surroundings and colour palettes. Taking advantage of its positioning with the Harbour Bridge next door and Westhaven marina directly in front, the space is open with large windows allowing for natural light to pour into the space.

Tabron adds: “This restaurant is about connection and bringing friends and family together. The menu and concept are inspired by my time spent travelling internationally to locations such as the United States and Europe. But we are showcasing our local produce – seafood, meat, and vegetable dishes. The wine list, I have curated myself drawing inspiration from my travels around NZ and across the world.

“Additionally included are some tried and tested brands that have remained consistent throughout my career, and of course a few fun extras to keep people guessing. The menu is centred upon quality, seasonality, and accessibility. Aside from hospitality and delicious food, our job is to entertain people, so there will be moments of surprise and delights too.”

With Chef Cezar Takahashi at the helm of the new purpose-built seaside kitchen, he draws on inspiration from his colourful Brazilian and Japanese heritage which comes through seamlessly in his food. Guests can expect to see contemporary flares on Kiwi seafood classics as well as delicious, seasonal plates that are perfect for both a small bite as well as larger dining experiences.

Signature dishes will include tuna taquitos, fresh sashimi plus several of Judith’s classic dishes which have been reworked with a modern twist by Cezar, providing a fresh take on some of the favourites that have been loved at Judith’s restaurants across the years.

The name ‘First Mates, Last Laugh’ is a nod to what comes last – ice cream. All prepared fresh and in-house, high quality and seasonal flavours will be on offer all year round. Furthermore, guests can expect a range of sorbet, an ice cream sandwich, as well as sundaes to boot.The restaurant will be open 6 days a week (closed Mondays) for lunch and dinner services initially. It is expected to be a 7-day a week operation by summer.

Amy Burton and Steve Mann.

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