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Paris Butter: Redefining the Fine Dining Experience

Paris Butter: Redefining the Fine Dining Experience

Paris Butter is a restaurant which values experiences above all else.

It is a mainstay in the Auckland dining scene and a familiar name come awards season, holding three Chef’s Hats in New Zealand’s Good Food Guide and establishing itself as one of the country’s best fine-diners.

But it wasn’t always this way.

Read on to learn about how Paris Butter came to realise its own potential and became the fine dining restaurant with a difference.

New directions

“We’ve had a bit of an interesting lifestyle.”

Paris Butter wasn’t always a fine dining restaurant. Starting out as a bistro, they saw within themselves a natural fit with fine dining—an obvious calling once the cards were laid out on the table.

Ben: “We’ve had a bit of an interesting lifestyle. We started off as a very traditional bistro, and then we all sat down and said, well, we enjoy cooking fine dining, we enjoy working fine dining, so why aren’t we doing it?”

Indeed, this made a lot of sense when you consider the calibre of their ownership team, Nick Honeyman and Zennon Wijlens.

Paris Butter was founded by Honeyman, with Wijlens joining the team in 2019. Between the two of them, they boast as impressive a resumé as anybody in hospitality, listing giants of the restaurant industry such as Michelin-starred restaurants L’Astrance and L’Arpege in Paris, and Momofuku Seiobo, Tetsuya’s and Spice Temple in Australia.

They haven’t looked back since, garnering acclaim from New Zealand’s Cuisine Magazine, the body responsible for awarding the country’s Chef’s Hats (Australia & New Zealand’s version of Michelin Stars), of which they have the maximum, 3.

Ben: “I think it’s about 7 years coming up, I believe, in July. I think it’s our birthday.”

Want to know more about Paris Butter & Lightspeed?

Learn about how Lightspeed helps Paris Butter keep their business evolving

The right people

“You’re never too good to stop learning new things.”

These high standards extend into Paris Butter’s hiring process too, but with a slight difference to what you would expect from a restaurant at the pinnacle of fine dining, and it gives an insight into how Paris Butter continues to provide a fresh, evolving experience.

Ben: “We love the experiences that everyone’s bringing to the table, and then we also like what their ethos is as well. We want them to learn, we also want them to teach us.”

This glimpse behind the hiring curtain shows us how each staff member is heard and can show what they bring to the table, creating a cohesive, unified team where everybody helps everybody in the name of delivering the best possible service each night.

It’s a humility not often associated with fine dining, and it’s one I’m sure we can agree is as welcome as it is effective.

Ben: “Our sous chef brought up a very good point that you’re never too good to stop learning new things.”

A shared experience

“We really encourage the staff here, to show off ‘them’.”

Paris Butter extends the customer experience beyond the dining service with staff initiatives that showcase the broad spectrum of experiences that their staff draw from and, in a certain way, give some personality to what can (at times) be a rather veiled sector of the hospitality industry.

Ben: “We do something every week called Projects. This is essentially a chance for everyone on the team to show off what they’ve been working on, other than work or something for the restaurant. 

“We record them all and then we put them up on social media, so it gives our consumer base a little bit of an insight on what we get up to through the week other than just your day to day service.”

Providing their customers with this behind the scenes look lends a vital human touch to Paris Butter whilst also providing a platform for their team to tell some interesting stories that most hospitality workers don’t get to tell.

Ben: “It’s just something that was really cool and sort of brought the team down to a base level, but also got the whole team involved, really showed off what we were about.”

A deeper meaning

“We really want people to feel comfortable…”

When it comes to the menu at Paris Butter, everything is there for a reason—it has a deeper meaning than simply being good food. Each item tells the story of the person behind it and, in turn, welcomes the diners into the culinary narrative so that they too can keep a small part of a distant land for themselves via the food on their plate.

Ben: “So the menu itself and the service structure is very much inspired by travel, and memories and experiences—predominantly of Zennon—but also what everyone else in the team can bring to the table.”

Ben is also aware that in the world of fine dining, there are certain stigmas that can be difficult to shake. Visions of uptight foodies, grasping at their pearls if the cutlery isn’t laid out perfectly (don’t worry, it still is) is a myth that Paris Butter are keen to dispel, opting instead for a more relaxed, comfortable atmosphere so that ultimately trivial things aren’t to be worried about at all.

Ben: “So fine dining, for us, we always found that it could be intimidating—walking into a restaurant where you’re spending all this money, and people are dressed nicely, and there’s the white tablecloths and the straight backs—that was something we wanted to try and avoid.

We really want people to feel comfortable, like they’re sitting in their own homes with their feet up, and an old friend is just serving them wine and some good food.”

And Paris Butter has delivered on every front, providing a transcendent, fine dining experience, but with the comforts of a dinner party with your nearest and dearest.

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