Growing up on the East Coast with his Nan, Robbie Webber was captivated by her extraordinary ability to transform ingredients like Pūhā, lamb's tail and tripe into delicious dishes that fed his large family. One of his earliest memories is watching his Nan cook over a large open fire and telling her, "I want to be a cook when I'm big."
Today, Webber stayed true to his childhood dream and is now the kitchen manager at Fife Lane. Located in Mount Maunganui, the chic contemporary steakhouse boasts a Mibrasa oven, a type of closed barbeque from Spain, adding a distinctive charcoal grill aroma and flavour to its meat dishes.
Webber centres creativity in all of his dishes, specialising in bringing out the rich flavours of New Zealand's freshest prime cuts and seafood.
He is particularly excited about the rise of Māori cuisine and the increasing accessibility of traditional Māori ingredients to restaurants.
The most rewarding part of his job is seeing Junior Chefs excited and inspired when they create something different, as well as being part of the dynamic and tight-knit Fife Lane team.
A particularly special moment for Webber was watching the restaurant's youngest chef win the Emerging Chef prize at the 2022 Restaurant Association Bay Hospitality Awards.
But above all, Webber is the proudest of watching the restaurant succeed and especially his contribution in helping to build Fife Lane from scratch
With achievements like winning the 2022 Matariki Dish Challenge's People's Choice Award and 30 years working in commercial kitchens under his belt, it is clear that Webber has inherited his Nan's magical gift for cooking.
In the future, he hopes to run his own food truck and sell quality food with the "Robbie difference."