Sean Connolly

Sean’s philosophy on great dining is all about bringing people together. Sean takes great pride in offering a relaxed, uncomplicated atmosphere, an atmosphere that complements his fresh and honest fare, simply prepared to let the natural flavors shine through.
From 1995 to 2010 Sean was the Executive Head Chef at Astral, a restaurant he steered to receive five consecutive chefs’ hats. Sean’s passion for quality meat and BBQ style cooking led him to open The Grill by Sean Connolly at SKYCITY Auckland in 2011. The restaurant serves fresh, honest fare, simply prepared, with a focus on serving tender pasture-fed meat. The study of beef at The Grill, pays homage to the ways that the finest cuts of beef can be prepared. It’s all about knowing what you are doing, doing it well, and doing it with pride.

In the second TV series of Sean’s Kitchen, Sean was able to meet and collaborate with four of the best of Texas’s BBQ specialists. While Sean was in Austin he researched everything from traditional southern cuisine to Texas BBQ. Sean’s research in Austin was completely exploratory as he researched their food, from smoked BBQ to TexMex and Southern fare. All the while learning about this cuisine from the very best.

These were:
Aaron Franklin, considered one of the most influential Pitmasters in the US, Aaron hosted Sean at his restaurant Franklin BBQ.
Other influences included time with, Australian/Texan Jess Pryles, cook, author, host and hardcore carnivore.
Louie Muellers, of Louie Mueller Barbecue who has been described as a “cathedral of smoke” due to producing the finest BBQ in Texas since opening its doors in 1949. Founder Louie Mueller handed over the reins to his son Bobby in 1974, who ran the smoker for over three decades before his son (third generation owner/Pitmaster) Wayne Mueller took control in 2007. 
Sean also spent time with Lance Kirkpatrick, Pitmaster at Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew in Austin, who got his start in the craft of smoking meat working the pits under the guidance of Bobby Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas. Lance, trained under the late Bobbie Mueller for over 9 years where he honed his skills as a true barbecue craftsman.

On Sean’s return from Texas, he prepared his team and tested his recipes at Sean’s Kitchen, before the Austin to Adelaide Food Festival, hosted by Tasting Australia. The connection that Sean has with Adelaide’s local harvesters, growers, cheesemakers, butchers, bakers, suppliers, wineries and breweries, was like what he had witnessed with the relationship that the BBQ and Pitmaster specialists have in Texas, with their product.

Sean’s love of all things BBQ continues as he begins a collaboration with Duncan Welgemoed of Africola from Adelaide. Sean will host Duncan at The Grill in Auckland, on the 1st May 2019. The menu will showcase the South African influence of BBQ that has propelled Africola into Australia’s Good Food Guide, holding 2 Hats for the past two years alongside The Grill that has received 2 Hats in the Cuisine Good Food Guide, here in NZ. This will be a night not to be missed!

In 2012, Sean later developed The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room on George St, Sydney, and the authentic Italian Gusto at the Grand at SKYCITY Auckland.  In 2015, Sean opened Sean’s Kitchen, a New York Brasserie inspired restaurant, at SKYCITY Adelaide following the documentary of the same name. 

Recent accolades and collaborations include Gusto at the Grand being a 2018 finalist in the Metro top 50 and Sean’s involvement with creating premium cabin meals on American Airline flights from Auckland to Sydney. Most notably The Grill by Sean Connolly recently received two hats at the prestigious Cuisine Good Food Awards in 2018, with Gusto at the Grand receiving one hat.