Locals Nico Fini and Ana Schwarz are clearly regulars at Island Coffee – every second customer pauses to greet one or other of the pair.

Schwarz, who’ll be familiar to many after becoming runner-up in 2012’s New Zealand MasterChef, has lived on Waiheke for the past eight years and is a well-known local cooking talent.

French-born Fini lived in Christchurch for 15 years, most of that time in Sumner, but 18 months ago he and his family moved to Waiheke. “It feels just like Sumner here – we love the community feel,” he says. Fini has worked everywhere from a Michelin-starred restaurant in the French Alps to Akaroa’s French Farm winery – in Auckland, he’s been re-establishing his Christchurch catering business, Urban Escargot, kicking it off by serving venison burgers and “12,000 portions of snails” at the fan zone during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Fini and Schwarz will be behind the food at the pavilion this summer. They say their plan is for it to be “fresh, fast and simple” and want to use as much local produce as possible. For breakfast you’ll find Ringawera brioche and homemade granola with Waiheke Island Cheese Company’s sheep’s milk yoghurt; lunch and dinner options will showcase local cheeses, honey, olive oil, fruit and vegetables, plus charcuterie from local restaurant Casita Miro.

“We didn’t want a boring normal cafe – we want it to be really special,” says Schwarz. And from daily changing platters and salads (the likes of Israeli couscous, green olives, tuna and orange with smoked paprika dressing) to freshly shucked Te Matuku Bay oysters, venison and port wine burgers, rabbit and hare rillettes, Ringawera breads, Waiheke honeycomb and more, the menu does indeed sound pretty special.

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