Me & My Car: An office on wheels
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Ben Bayly is Executive Chef at The Grove Baduzzi, and owner of The Grounds Eatery.
What are you driving?
A beautiful Lexus RX350 Limited, brand new in graphite black. It has a 221 kW, 3.5 litre V6 coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission that means it is smooth and fuel-efficient but has heaps of power. It also has the ability to alter the drive mode from normal, economy and sport.
Why the Lexus?
I was asked by Lexus of North Shore to be their ambassador and was thrilled to accept as their brand aligns with my core values in the kitchen. They are beautifully crafted vehicles with 4000 quality checks whilst being built.
When we build dishes in our kitchens, we, too, are constantly checking, tasting and trialling techniques at every stage to come up with the best results.
What do you like about the RX350?
I’m a details guy. I like the little things in life. It charges my Samsung phone wirelessly when I put it on the console.
At home, we have a tricky driveway, and this car has fantastic parking cameras so it is pretty much impossible to back into anything, scratch your mags on the curb or back into another car. Inside the car while driving, is so unbelievably quiet.
Who else drives your car?
Cara, my wife. But I have never been precious about who drives my car.
And how does it fit in with your work?
Time is precious, so I make the most of my time in the car. With three restaurants to look after, it’s like a mobile office — wine in the boot, chefs’ jackets hanging in the back, new plates we are working on, foraged cresses I have picked up on the way to work, and kids’ clothes from the school pick-up. I also spend way too much time in traffic so love the way it reads my emails and texts. I catch up on my phone calling in the car so I can leave the phone on silent when I am in the kitchen.
What else do you have in your garage?
My brother Nic and I have a Harley-Davidson each. We are crazy mad for Harleys and this drives our wives round the bend.
Your dream car?
McLaren 540C coupe. Bruce McLaren was a fantastic New Zealander.
How often do you clean your car?
The car is an office and I have three young kids and a dog ... so you can imagine. But I love the Air New Zealand valet at Auckland Airport; I have been lucky enough to travel heaps, so the car gets a birthday every time I fly.
Can you imagine yourself in a driverless car?
Yes for sure. Anything to reduce congestion on our roads gets my vote. So much time is wasted on busy Auckland roads, with single-person vehicles driving to work.
Most memorable road trip?
When I was a 14-year old at Te Awamutu College, I was in the athletic team. We flew to the Nationals Secondary Schools champs in Invercargill. After the competition, for fun, our coach, Rex Smith, drove the team all the way home, up the West Coast of the South Island to Nelson. It was my first time in the South Island and it took a week to get home, staying in campgrounds with my mates. It was an amazing experience.
Favourite movie car scene?
I loved every car scene in the movie Days of Thunder
as a kid. I watched it 20 times, “back in the days” when Tom Cruise was cool.
Great day trip out of Auckland?
I love taking visitors to Arataki visitor centre on Scenic Drive, on to Huia and then the gravel road to Whatipu for a walk on the wildest beach.
One road rule you would change?
When I was a young chef, I lived in Las Vegas for two years, and the road rules were different. My favourite was if the light was red, it was ok to do a sneaky right-hand turn if nobody was coming.
What annoys you about other drivers?
Way too many drivers just drive in their own “bubble”.
And Auckland’s traffic?
Auckland is a small city becoming a big fast. We need better public transport but not buses please.