Sam’s culinary journey began early, in the kitchen at the family farm in Raglan. It was his grandmother, Joy, who taught him how to cook using whatever was growing in the paddocks outside the back door. Now, as a chef and restaurateur, those experiences have come full circle.
While studying culinary arts in Hamilton, Sam took an early shine to the creative possibilities of classic French-style technique. A short stint in Australia ended when Sam returned to put those skills to good use as the Head Chef at Cable Bay Vineyard on Waiheke Island. In 2014, with a sound reputation for excellence, Sam was invited to lead the team at Clooney, an innovator in the Auckland fine dining scene.
In 2019 a new opportunity arrived, as Sam, his wife Florencia and their son Lachlan relocated to Hawke's Bay and opened The Central Fire Station Bistro. Here, Sam and his team showcase great Hawke's Bay produce in a bustling, stylish bistro space offering exceptional service and a warm, friendly, celebratory atmosphere.
Florencia (Flor) also began cooking in the family kitchen, although it was in urban Argentina – far, far away from coastal New Zealand.
Applying for cooking school in Buenos Aires, Flor was one of only 25 students accepted into a highly sought-after three-year culinary programme.
A combined love of travel and cooking bought her to New Zealand where she joined the team at Cable Bay Vineyards, thriving in the pastry section of the kitchen and turning out finely hand-crafted treats and desserts for the multi-award winning restaurant.
It was also here that she met her now-husband and business partner Sam. In 2014, Flor stepped away from the kitchen to raise the couple’s newborn son, Lachlan. It was then that the began creating her luxury bespoke cakes under the moniker Flora & Frola.
Florencia has now opened BAKED in the Central Fire Station building. Her creations feature on both the bistro menu and in the studio itself – alongside hot drinks, slices and house-made sourdough sandwiches.