NEW ZEALANDER Peter Gordon is head chef at the Sugar Club, Time Out's Best Modern British Restaurant of the Year in 1996

"I started cooking when I was about five - the basic kiddie stuff. We had a few cooking shows on New Zealand TV and it all seemed very exotic.

"I left Wanganui at 17 and went to university. A year later I went to Australia and got an apprenticeship as a chef before going backpacking in Asia and India, ending up in London. I went back to New Zealand because my dad got sick, and that's when the first Sugar Club opened in Wellington. My cousin told the owners all about this wonderful chef they should employ, which they took a risk and did. That was really my big break.

"We came back with the intention of opening a restaurant here. It all took forever till we got the site in All Saints Road. The Sugar Club there, now the Bali Sugar, ran for two-and-a-half years and won a couple of awards. Eight weeks ago we opened this one.

"I'm doing some pilots with the BBC and the Nigel Slater series for Channel Four. It's very different, but the more I do in front of the camera the more comfortable I feel. Some people are really cynical and say chefs ought to stay in the kitchen, but that would be tedious; and it's not as if I'm going out trying to be a star!

"My food is `world food', for want of a better description. When you're backpacking you come across loads of different ingredients. England colonised so many interesting places but they've never really taken advantage of this stuff.

"I think we're successful because we do interesting food. I've been cooking like this for six years, and I've never been prepared to compromise - that's the secret. I work hard and constantly set myself goals - so far I've been lucky enough to achieve most of them."