Although he was born in Australia, chef restaurateur Nic Watt considers himself a New Zealander. Having spent his teenage years on this side of the Tasman, he grew up with his Kiwi parents’ love of food and was encouraged to train as a chef.
Upon graduation, he moved to Japan, where a long international career in cuisine began. He first honed his skills at the Park Hyatt Tokyo. It was here that he worked with Rainer Becker in the first of many collaborations with the German executive chef. Watt also joined Becker at London’s Park Hyatt Knightsbridge, before establishing Roka, an accessible version of Becker’s Zuma robata restaurant. Eventually promoted to chief operating officer and partner, Watt also spearheaded the global expansion of Roka restaurants in London’s Canary Wharf, Hong Kong, Macau, and Arizona.
But in 2012, Watt headed home to New Zealand, having been given the opportunity to open his own Japanese robata restaurant in the revitalised dining precinct next to SKYCITY’s Grand Hotel – MASU by Nic Watt. Watt created a modern interpretation of the centuries old Robata style of cooking over hot coals for his first restaurant, which eventually opened in October 2013 to instant awards and acclaim.
The chef restaurateur also added two more restaurants to his stable in 2019. Watt partnered with the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in 2019 to open Akarana Eatery in the beautiful waterfront location of Auckland’s Okahu Bay. Having spent many happy days fishing out on the Waitematā himself, Akarana Eatery celebrates Watt’s love of being out on the harbour and New Zealand’s abundance of seafood.
Within months of the opening of Akarana Eatery, Watt opened the inaugural INCA in Westfield Newmarket’s rooftop dining precinct. Inspired by Watt’s earlier travels to Peru, where he studied the art of Nikkei, INCA celebrates this fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines.
Now in 2022, Watt’s restaurant portfolio is expanding once again, with the opening of INCA Ponsonby in March. Having evolved from its sister restaurant in Newmarket, this new venture is part of the expanded Ponsonby Central dining precinct and again celebrates the art of Nikkei cuisine where Latin America meets Asia.
Watt has also made several TV appearances throughout his career, including his own TV3 cooking show, Testing the Menu. He’s also published two cookbooks - Chef’s Secrets from the Kitchen of Huka Lodge (from his time as executive chef at the luxury lodge in Taupō) and Masu by Nic Watt.