What's It Like To Live With A Chef? Inside The Life Of The Grove's Kira Ghidoni

The Grove's head chef Kira Ghidoni and restaurant manager Fabian Decoux dish on their day-to-day reality


Fabian Decoux and Kira Ghidoni. Photo / Babiche Martens

There is some debate between Kira Ghidoni and Fabian Decoux — respectively head chef and restaurant manager of The Grove — about who made the first move, but both agree their love blossomed as the result of “classic hospo stuff”. Flirtations during service, sparks at staff drinks, and an inevitable hook-up after a long day dining out around town.

Eighteen months on, the couple live together and align their rosters so they share the same days off during the week. Kira says at work they are in two separate worlds, and it’s not until they knock off and unwind that they finally get to connect.

“I’m super hyper-active whenI finish work at night, I can’t go straight to sleep. It always takes some time to come down and that’s our time of night to really be together.”

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Having somebody to understand this pattern is the reason Kira has never had a relationship with someone from outside of the hospitality industry, “I fall in love with people who share my same passion and understand what sacrifices are about. I don’t want anyone texting me at midnight saying, ‘Why aren’t you home yet?’ That doesn’t exist for me. I’ve always said my first love is my job. If you can deal with that, cool, you’re on board.”

Fabian Decoux and Kira Ghidoni. Photo / Babiche Martens

Fabian recalls a really good cheese platter was one of the first things Kira made for him outside of work, and sometimes after service they go to Deadshot in Ponsonby for a cocktail and a cheeseboard before heading home; or to Wongkok, a Chinese restaurant that is open until 3am around the corner from The Grove, where they treat themselves to late-night takeaways like fried rice, lemon chicken and roast duck.

But at their Sandringham home, they crave comforting food inspired by Kira’s Swiss-Italian heritage — homemade pasta, gnocchi and risotto — and nutrients that often get neglected during their busy days. “Last night I made a minestrone and it’s just all these vegetables cooked in a broth and my body is just like, ‘Wow, thank you!’”

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Fabian mans the pans at home too, but is mindful of his audience. “I start cooking and I am asking her questions and she tells me to go away because she’s watching Netflix. I’m only asking just to make sure it’s not disappointing”.

Kira remembers a roast chicken he cooked for her when she got home from work two nights ago with closed eyes and a slight smile on her face. She says that kind of unfussiness is what makes her content. “He stresses too much, he’s a good cook. I think when people invite a chef for dinner, they are just sort of scared. But I’m super simple, you give me a piece of cheese and bread and I’m super happy.”

With the restaurant closed on Sundays, sleep-ins and breakfast at home are a ritual — anything from Japanese pancakes to asparagus benedict. Then they go out to eat, all over Auckland. Kira says: “We love food and I think it is important for a chef to explore and treat yourself, because we are always working for others in hospitality and it’s just nice to sit down and have someone take care of you.”

Join Kira and Fabien for an upcoming dinner as part of American Express Restaurant Month - A Taste of Roots - which will see Kira collaborate with chef Giulio Sturla of Lyttelton's Roots restaurant for a 6-course menu with matching wines. Wednesday, August 14, The Grove, central city, Auckland

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