Chef now owner at Noble 600

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HAPPY TIMES: Chef Harpreet Singh has taken over as sole owner of Noble 600, the restaurant where he has worked since late 2021.
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Harpreet Singh has taken off his chef whites, come out of the kitchen and taken over ownership at Noble 600 restaurant.

The qualified chef has worked at the restaurant since it opened in December 2021, under former lease owners Tony Potts and Wendy Ritchie.

For the first year he was head chef, then became a 50/50 partner with Potts and Ritchie, and just last month took over full ownership.

Singh, known to many as Happi, settled in Ashburton three years ago.

He is excited about the future, and undeterred by an increase of eateries in Ashburton and the closure of neighbouring restaurants Speight’s Ale House and Armadillos. Both restaurants cited increased competition as a reason for their closure.

‘‘I can’t stop them can I? I can’t go in somewhere and say ‘Can you close your restaurant please?’ I really want to but I can’t!’’ he said with a smile.

Singh said people can continue to expect good food and good service at Noble, with extended opening hours, more buffet options and onsite catering for special events in the function room.

Wednesday night is still quiz night and Thursday an all-youcan-eat buffet night, plus there are set menu options and platters.

He also has the support of the Ashburton Club and MSA. Members of the club get a 10 per cent discount.

‘‘We were a bit limited before. The previous years we were just dinner … really limited opening hours and not offering more variety.’’

He said new opening hours will see lunch time service from Tuesday to Sunday from noon to 2pm. Dinner service still runs from Wednesday to Sunday from 4.30 to 9pm. The restaurant, which holds 120 people, is closed on Mondays.

Singh grew up in India but has lived in New Zealand for seven years.

A qualified chef, he completed his level four and five cookery training in Auckland before working at a number of venues in the South Island, including Hotel Ashburton and the neighbouring Speight’s.

He has also worked in Kaikoura, Nelson and Blenheim.

‘‘I’ve just had one job, since living in New Zealand, to be a chef,’’ he said.

Since taking ownership, Singh has come out of the kitchen to be front of house and take on management duties. He still does menu planning and designs.

He said he had an ‘‘amazing’’ crew behind him with two sous chefs and a chef de partie.

He also has part timers helping at front of house.

‘‘The staff is amazing. The kitchen is doing great, I have some excellent chefs, trained by me, and I help them as well once in a while.’’

Noble 600 was first run by the Ashburton Club and MSA as a fine dining venture when it opened in June 2021.

Its name harked backed to the days of prohibition and referred to the number of citizens of the district fortunate enough to be club members when the town went dry.

After trading at a loss the MSA decided to lease out the restaurant.

It was picked up by Potts and Ritchie, who also had Speight’s Ale House Ashburton at the time.