Lucas Parkinson

Head chef, restaurant owner and local community champion.

Words Natalie Cyra. Photography Jason Asare

Lucas Parkinson has had years of experience working as a chef, but it wasn’t until he opened his own restaurant in Wanaka that his true passion came to life. Not only a great cook, Parkinson is a local community champion too.

Lucas Parkinson, head chef and owner of Ode restaurant in Wanaka, has a passion ignited by purpose. His core mission, in his words, “is to show New Zealand that you can run profitable and sustainable restaurants that support local producers over convenience.”

While dining in Wanaka is a treat of its own, Ode has a unique point of difference that Parkinson has worked hard to establish. Everything on the menu uses organically grown, local produce, with nothing taking longer than a day’s drive to arrive from the source to the kitchen. In fact, often ingredients are sourced from farms just 15 minutes away when seasons allow. 

Even the wine at Ode is organic or biodynamic, with spirits locally distilled and local craft beers available too. This is all part of Parkinson’s deep love for the locavore movement – a food movement of people who prefer to eat foods grown locally, supporting local farmers. 

For Parkinson, good food means sourcing organic, ethical, sustainable, seasonal ingredients and supporting locals who are doing good things. This allows diners, much to their delight, to experience the surrounding environment through delicious food. 

“Food keeps us alive, but good food makes us feel alive, adds Parkinson. “We believe that good food starts with respecting the integrity of the ingredients – ingredients that have been produced with attention, consideration and purity.” 

Parkinson, who opened Ode in May 2017, is a third-generation chef with more than a decade’s experience in New Zealand and Australia. He believes championing organics and hyper-local where available is better for our bodies and our eco system. 

His love of supporting local also extends to events – he recently took over the Dine by Donation series, the brainchild of Auckland chef Michael Meredith that has supported many charities over the years. On their first night recently, Parkinson and his team at Ode, alongside Meredith, raised $4,400 for the local Kahu Youth Trust. Furthermore, in June, five world-class chefs over five nights collaborated with Parkinson in his kitchen to raise funds for Garden to Table and Everybody Eats, two initiatives that aim to teach children about growing, harvesting and cooking food, and combating food waste and food poverty in New Zealand. At these events, all food is donated by Ode’s suppliers with the entire proceeds from each evening going to the charity of choice.

“Ode was created as a space for us to connect with and live our truths, to collaborate, to grow and generate change. We care about and respect our environment and our communities and are conscious of the impact our choices have on them and their long-term wellbeing,” says Parkinson.

To vote for Lucas Parkinson, winner of the Food/Beverage category, to be the People’s Choice winner, click here.

To find out more about Lucas Parkinson’s vision that is brought to light with Ode, visit odewanaka.com

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