Stephen McAlister is proud to be the owner of well-known business the Waimate Takeaway and Milkbar. Tyson Young tracks him down for a chat.
Q Where do you hail from, Stephen?
I’m Christchurch born and bred.
Q How did you come to live in Waimate?
I actually moved to Kaikoura for a wee while, and my former partner was working in fish and chips, so we ended up moving down here and buying this place. All is history – she’s gone and I’m still here.
Q How long have you been running the place?
I’ve been running it for just over two years. I love Waimate. It’s a small town, but I love the people and I also like working for myself. I’ve never worked in food before but I love it.
Q What’s the hardest part of the job?
I’d say the hardest part would be trying to take criticism because everybody’s got a different idea on how food should be cooked or presented. A good example is the way chips are cooked. You have people come in and want under-cooked chips, over-cooked chips, and then you get people just wanting plain hot chips.
Q What do you enjoy most about the job?
I think it’s just the people. Although I’m working in the kitchen, it’s still the people. There’s some real personalities no matter where you work. You’re right out at the forefront. They all know you by name around here.
Q What’s it like to be your own boss?
Stressful. It can be very stressful, but I love it. You make the decisions – it’s all down to you. I’d say it’s all about the team you have.
Q How big is your team?
Here at the moment, there’s five of us. I think it’s the best team I’ve ever had here. My kitchen manager is a trained chef, so we’re coming up with lots of ideas.
Q What do you like to do in your spare time?
Spare time? What’s spare time? to keep my fitness up, that sort of thing. I also like to relax and watch sport in front of the TV.
Q If you could have a drink with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
To be honest, because I’m a real rugby man, I’d have to say Richie McCaw. He’s the man. He’s down to earth – he’s a true New Zealander, as far as I’m concerned.