Marcus Berndt isn’t a chef…  He’s a magician.

There’s no other way to explain the taste sensation I experienced at Provenir Cuisine & Cellar, located within the Paihia Beach Resort and Spa, last Friday night.

Chef Berndt’s meals are as delicious as they are beautiful.  The German-New Zealander uses local produce from Northland’s Bay of Islands and surrounding towns, as well as freshly harvested greens and florals from Provenir’s own garden.

It was an added delight to learn that Mr Berndt forages, yes forages, ingredients from the region’s clean, green coastline and forests.

Such is Chef Berndt’s genius, rare delicacies such as samphire appeared on my plate alongside fascinating examples of molecular gastronomy.  I couldn’t help thinking of him as some kind of fusion of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Heston Blumenthal.

The restaurant itself is an intimate and welcoming space, tucked in beside the resort’s pool and with a breathtaking view across the bay.  Although Provenir Cuisine & Cellar is part of the Paihia Beach Resort, it’s also open to the public and has a public access entrance from Marsden Road.

I attempted to throw Chef Berndt a curve-ball by asking for a vegetarian meal.  Unfazed, he came up with a unique and beautiful meat-free meal which was made with as much passion and care as any other meal I saw around me.

For someone who’s competing in the 2016 Silver Fern Farm award for New Zealand’s best meat dish, Chef Berndt was able to effortlessly whip up a very impressive vegetarian entrée and main.

I must also make mention of the wait staff, who were professional, knowledgeable and exceptionally friendly.

It was an outstanding dining experience in a beautiful setting.  I’ll definitely be back.