Lucas Parkinson


My name is Lucas Kim William Parkinson,
I was born 19 October 1987 at Thames hospital in the Coromandel.
I have a 9 year old daughter with my lover of 10 years, I have 4 older sisters, my mum & dad, an epic family, a strong work team and a loyal but small circle of close friends.
I deal with anxiety, depression and a syndrome that for now remains private.
I am the Head chef & owner of Ode, an organic farm to table restaurant in Wanaka.
I`ll try to fit it all in without waffling on!
My bio, a bit about me and these past crazy 3 years of my life with Ode.
Growing up in Grey Lynn & surrounds in the 90's & early 2000's was a very different experience to the now gentrified area, it was a true melting pot of ethnicity & culture.
I was a naughty kid and had my eye on the wrong side of the tracks, I got caught up in gangs and got into all sorts of mischief until I got a job cooking at the age of 18, by age 20 I was taking it seriously and I can seriously say the industry saved my life, however it did come with a decade of gritty training, 17 hour shifts, constant screaming and belittling, heat, stress, heavy workloads and meagre paychecks, sure I could have taken easier jobs but I had a goal to be the best I can be, and with a child coming at the age of 22 I felt a strong sense to make something of myself.
After a decade of a quite tortuous training all over the world and becoming an alcoholic I decided to put down my knives and the bottle and be full time dad for 2 years whilst my partner studied business and worked part time, it was some of the best 2 years of my life,I worked on myself, found my soul and I started a small hot sauce company that received critical success and made us a bit of money to get by on.
Fast forward to 2016 and we had moved from Queenstown to Wanaka, I worked a year at Bistro Gentil and caught the bug of cooking again, except without the drinking habit.
We decided to open Ode, a restaurant that focused on sourcing local organic ingredients and having little to no waste and bringing a new level of dining to the Wanaka public.
We opened, and it flopped big time, on opening night 4 people came, Wanaka didn't want a bar of this organic farm to table stuff at the time, this continued for months, Ode was going lee shore towards bankruptcy.
I called Arna Craig, I heard about her marketing skills and I was running out of money fast, a simple email implying my state of desperation and financial position, young, broke & gifted they say.
Arna walked through the doors the next day with the aura of an angel, she popped the hood, whipped my image into shape and put us on track, Ode started filling up, the local & national communities started to notice us, before we knew it we had broke even through our first year and paid off some debt, it was really tough but we scraped by, the bank had cut us off so if we went below zero it meant we closed our doors, we were like a high speed hovercraft going full tit but just keeping above water, it was exhilarating and exhausting, with a few very close calls in there.
1 year & 3 months in, we were on a roll of awards and critical, monetary & media success, our team was a well oiled machine, I had been named hospitality person of the year by Good magazine and then we received a stunning 1 hat review from Cuisine Magazine, the next day Kelli Brett, owner & editor of Cuisine came for dinner on the 11th August 2018, she sung praise of our work, we were on cloud 9 and with the good food awards just around the corner we knew we had solidified our place with the best in the industry.
But I went home that night, I was exhausted and the trajectory of Ode and my image was taking its toll on my personal life, at that time I self medicated regularly trying to hold on to this rocket ship.
It was 1am, I wrote a letter in front of the fireplace, questioning my purpose and what this all means, questioning why we are reaching such heights but feeling so low, questioning everything.
I ended the letter with 'god help me' 
I fell asleep on the floor, my partner found the letter, she woke me up, we spoke, we laughed, we cried, we argued, then kind of made up but went to bed pent up.
The next morning we wole up to a call from our landlord saying Ode had caught fire in the night and was severely damaged. Walking in, that smell, everything black, ash everywhere, it was so surreal, I will never forget it. I wept for hours.
I didn't want to feel defeated so I toured the country doing pop ups and colabs at epic restaurants which was really awesome and humbling, but after the tour ended and the lights went out my life went downhill and the most twisted year of my life followed.
I was diagnosed with ********* syndrome (not ready to publicly let that cat out the bag yet) which bought a lot of things to light for my partner and daughter and I.
But things in our life got worse, the stress of insurance battles and council issues took its toll on us.
I self medicated heavily, our family drifted apart, a seemingly never ending (still to this day) court case with our insurance company provided extreme doses of weekly stress, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal & administrative costs alone. 
We had to sell our family home to pay for Ode 2.0 opening costs because insurance did not pay out in time, which we are still battling to this day for reimbursement, they go round in circles to drip feed us small amounts of money every few months.
Eventually almost a year later Ode 2.0 opened, our family was back together but I had surrounded myself with some really toxic people and the first few months of Ode were really busy but really difficult until this toxicity excreted itself from our lives leaving a trail of theft, stress and deception.
Finally Ode 2.0 was going well, I had a small but loyal and hardworking team of passionate people, it was hard work but we had a good time, we had won our hat back and been awarded top 50 in the Cuisine good food awards, we were humming along until late january and covid19 kicked off, we noticed the drop in tourists almost immediately. February is the peak tourist market in Wanaka however we had a financially terrible February, tourism just dropped right off and our customers went with it.
By late february covid was wreaking havoc worldwide and I made the call to close Ode for health & safety reasons, the next day Jacinda called lockdown.
Now here we are, completely broke and on the edge of bankruptcy again because high end restaurants running costs are, well… high.
Yup, it's been a shitty run, huge high`s huge low`s. Im not perfect, I still entertain escapism, my family isn't perfect,my friends aren't angels, my mindset isn't always happy and grateful and sometimes i'm just downright fed up with life, but at the end of the day it's a business, a material possession, that can be replaced.
But family can't and that's what matters the most to me.
Keep breathing.
Lucas Parkinson