Mapu Test Kitchen
Giulio Sturla is a renowned chef but, according to him, his “test kitchen” Mapu is not a restaurant.
Find it down a nondescript alleyway on the main street of Lyttelton, a harbour town around 20 minutes' drive from central Christchurch. The space is incredibly intimate; only seating six, it’s in a room at the rear of the site that was formerly Sturla’s acclaimed (now closed) restaurant Roots. The core idea is that it’s a mystery. There’s no menu, but you know it’ll be around five courses plus snacks.
Mapu works on a ticketing system, so you book in as you would for an event – with a prepaid ticket for yourself, a pair or a group of up to six people.
When there, you might get a tour of Sturla’s private garden out the back of the venue, overflowing with edible blooms and plants like snow peas, basil and coriander, miner’s lettuce and native New Zealand spinach.
The Chile-born chef has lived in the town for over 10 years. He’s become an encyclopaedia of all the flora that grows around the harbour – from kelp and sea lettuce to wild onions and watercress. Sturla’s big on following nature’s course, prioritising sustainability and minimising waste. He cultivates and grows, harvests and forages – as well as prepping, cooking and cleaning.
During a four-hour experience at Mapu, Sturla does it all right in front of you – including providing the entertainment. You can guarantee each course will be wildly varied, and that's all part of the fun.
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