Be the first to see what events we have coming up.


April 14th, 2017 Posted by Team 0 comments on “Ken O’CONNELL”

Ken is originally from Cork, Ireland and moved to New Zealand in January 2007 to take on the role as Executive Chef at Vidal’s Winery in February of that year.

He has been perfecting his approach to the craft for over 30 years in Ireland & European competitions where he has been recognized as a talented team & individual competitor.

Born in Cork, Ken completed culinary training at Cork Regional Polytechnic gaining City & Guilds with Irish equivalent qualification as an apprentice, he also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts with Distinction.

He was a member of the New Zealand Culinary Squad and has been a member of the Irish Culinary Team 2004 to 2007 and as part of the Irish Culinary Team he has competed in 2004 Culinary Olympics, Scot-Hot 2005 in Scotland, Catex 2005 Dublin, and Culinary World Cup 2006 in Luxemburg.

He holds over 90 awards to date, has been awarded 2008/2013 New Zealand Chef of the Year, with the most recent success being team captain for Team Otago in 2016 at the Battle of the Pacific in Melbourne Australia, attaining Gold and winning the battle against 11 other teams. He has also been awarded the 2009 Restaurant association continuing education grant, which he used to travel and work at Quay restaurant with Peter Gilmore in Sydney.

His approach & style has had a positive impact on food and the hospitality business in New Zealand. His modern European and New Zealand influenced cuisine has been recognized with his selection for Cuisine restaurant of the year in 2009 and 2010 with Vidal Winery.

He went to Distinction Hotels as the group executive chef from the Hermitage Hotel in Mount Cook National park where he was the Executive Chef from March 2011 with great personal and team success.

His accolades with his culinary team was winning New Zealand Regional Team of the Year 2012 at the Auckland Culinary show, and two of his chefs winning South Island Chef of the Year and South Island Commis Chef of the Year in 2012 at Southern Lights under his tutelage.

Ken was the chef/owner of Bracken restaurant with his wife Fiona in Dunedin for 5 years. Bracken gained 1 Hat in its first year and received 2 Hats in 2017. The cuisine is local, modern New Zealand, seasonal and innovative using organic and free range ingredients offering a tasting menu only format.