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Hippopotamus’ Fling With Sean Connolly’s Esther For Visa Wellington On A Plate

Posted on: 10 May 2023

Get caught up in Esther’s wanderlust as Chef Sean Connolly brings award-winning restaurant, Esther to QT Wellington as part of Wellington On a Plate’s Chef Collaboration Series.

In a Wellington first, 11 May sees QT Wellington welcomes QT Auckland’s hatted restaurant, Esther, to bring a taste of the Mediterranean to the antipodean coast.

Hippopotamus will be exchanging French fine-dining for the authentic tastes of the Mediterranean’s sun-soaked shores, playing host to guest chefs Sean Connolly, QT Auckland’s Culinary Food and Beverage Director, and James Laird, Executive Chef at QT Auckland. Esther takes guests on a culinary tour, with flavours and spices from Sicily to Greece and as far-flung as Morocco. Signature dishes from Esther are the hero of this lavish dinner; octopus nduja ragu, coastal lamb with ricotta gnocchi and a signature rum baba, all served alongside a selection of wines from Hippopotamus’ 8000 bottle-strong cellar.

For a bit of fun and a lot of funk, Hippopotamus will also be introducing a dish for DINE Wellington, Queer Eye for the Fungi, throughout the May festival. Fungi is officially having a glow-up, with the team at Hippopotamus shinging the light into the depths of damp and dark for a supremely dank degustation. This three-course set menu heroes fungi in its many wonderful forms, with all of Hippopotamus’ signature finesse. Magical mycelium? Oui. Titillating truffle? Bien sûr. From a wild mushroom tortellini entrée to a chocolatey shroom-sculpted dessert, the offering is a magnifique meal for champignon connoisseurs.

Those looking to indulge in COCKTAIL Wellington, Hippopotamus’ Avant Nightcap is a digestif-turned-aperitif. This dramatic cocktail combines the funky falsetto of a mushroom-infused liqueur with the sweet sonata of a noble rot wine. The Avant Nightcap is paired with a voluptuous vol au vent, filled with oyster mushroom, Kāpiti Kahurangi cheese and porcini powder for an encore of botrytis and blue vein.

QT Wellington’s Hipppopatamus are breaking the mould this May for Visa Wellington On a Plate (WOAP), from 5 – 21 May 2023.


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Notes to the Editor:
Chef Collaboration Series – Esther’s French Fling at Hippopotamus
Thursday 11 May at 6pm. Details on the sold out event here.

About Esther:
QT Auckland’s signature restaurant, Esther, is helmed by esteemed chef Sean Connolly. Esther takes its namesake from Connolly’s grandmother, one of the greatest influences on his career. Honest simplicity and lively spirit combine with sun-soaked flavours of the Mediterranean to make this restaurant unique. British-born Connolly’s experience in the kitchen spans the globe, and has earned him celebrity chef status with an impressive collection of awards and chefs’ hats, plus his own broadcast and documentary series. Visit

DINE Wellington – Queer Eye for the Fungi at Hippopotamus:
Available from 5 – 21 May. Three courses and wine match for $99. To make a booking, visit WOAP: Queer Eye for the Fungi.

COCKTAIL Wellington – The Avant Nightcap at Hippopotamus:
Available 5 – 21 May. $25. To book, visit: WOAP: Avant Nightcap

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