New Zealand born Brian Park started his career as a 16-year-old kitchenhand in his father’s restaurant. Based in Botany Downs, the traditional Korean restaurant exposed Brian to the finer arts of the cuisine he’s known since childhood – as well as a “typical chef’s” heated nature.
Brian prefers a more relaxed approach. By not holding on too tightly to any one method of cooking, he aims to bring diversity to the table.
“I studied traditional French cooking at AUT,” he says, “but I grew up with Korean cooking.”
Brian draws much inspiration from Korean-American chef David Chang. He seeks to strike an approachable balance between Asian and French cooking techniques to expose customers to “elements of Korean cooking in an accessible way”.
His work in various contemporary cafes and bistros throughout Cambridge and Auckland provided him with further inspiration to spice up The Alex’s menu. But he’s still satisfying punters with their favourite pub grub, too.
“I haven’t touched the toasties,” he says with a laugh. The traditional ham and cheese is always a safe bet. Yet, Brian hopes that newcomer Korean fried chicken, served with hints of strawberry jam, will become a top pick.
Catering to all tastes is a challenge he’s relishing. An upcoming menu will boast classic Kiwi fish ‘n’ chips as well as pork belly with nuoc cham, a Vietnamese dressing made from fish sauce, lemon juice and sugar.
Brian wants everyone to feel catered for, so there’s no restriction. He plans to expand the organic soba noodle bowl into a selection of buddha bowls with home-cured salmon or tofu alongside beef burgers and pepperoni pizza.
It’s no mean feat catering to such a wide variety of taste buds. Still, Brian is managing to merge the many aspects of his cooking career to do just that. He sees a diverse range of customers at The Alex “especially on Friday nights, [when] it’s exciting to work”.
His philosophy of infusing simple, easy-to-approach food with Asian features shows in The Alex’s sharing plates and platters. There’s a little something for everyone. Even the calamari’s getting zhooshed-up with a chilli and coriander Vietnamese dressing.
Brian enjoys getting creative in the kitchen. The breakfast menu’s as inclusive as lunch and dinner, with almond milk porridge and Belgian waffles starting out next to big brekkie and eggs bene. Not to mention the parmesan and mascarpone truffle because truffle “makes everything taste better”.
The freedom to experiment, explore and create is one of Brian’s top priorities. It’s also what makes any pick on The Alex’s menu a good bet.