Sharon Stephenson talks to chef Pierre-Alain Fenoux about the flavours of this French homeland.

Steamy mounds of polenta, studded with rich French diot (pork sausages): nothing mentally transports Pierre Alain Fenoux back to his home town of Chambery, an alpine town in south-east France, faster than diots polenta, a dish his grandmother used to make.

"It's a traditional dish in my region," says 35-year-old Fenoux who opened Jano Bistro in 2014 with his partner Diana Goh.

"It's rich and filling, real comfort food that's eaten all year round."

And although you'd never call it pretty, the dish is "rustic and delicious", he says.

Food was a natural progression for Fenoux, who moved to New Zealand in 2010.

Photo: Ross Giblin/Stuff

Photo: Ross Giblin/Stuff

He grew up in a family that "believed in good, honest food" and knew he wanted to become a chef from age 14 when he signed up at a local hospitality college.

Four years later, he graduated and spent the next while ping-ponging around the region, setting up restaurant kitchens, working for Michelin-starred restaurants and in a ski resort.

But itchy feet got the better of him and in 2008, he and a chef friend moved to Australia for a year.

That morphed into two years of working in Melbourne's restaurant scene. He moved to Wellington "out of curiosity" and ended up spending almost five years behind the stove in Le Canard restaurant.

But owning his own eatery was always the ultimate dream and five years ago he did that with Goh, naming the Willis Street eatery after his paternal grandfather.

Despite craving diots polenta, Fenoux doesn't make it at home or serve it in the restaurant.

"You can use any pork sausages for this but for me it doesn't have the same flavour as the special French sausages we get at home.

"Besides, this dish represents family and home to me so I'd be sad eating it without my family around me!"


Serves 4

For the Diots:

4-8 free-range pork sausage
3 brown onions
2 garlic cloves
1 sprig of thyme
50g tomato paste
1L red wine (for cooking)
Olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar

For the polenta:

250g polenta
2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
2 sprig of thyme
1/2 L milk
1/2 L chicken stock (or vege stock)
50g butter
50g grated parmesan
50g creme fraiche
Olive oil, salt, pepper

In a shallow pan, combine the sliced onions, chopped garlic and the thyme with a little olive oil and cook on a medium heat until evenly caramelised. Set aside.

In the same pan, brown the pork sausages on all sides then add the reserved onions and the tomato paste. Stir until the tomato paste begins to caramelise  and then deglaze with the red wine.

Turn the heat to low and gently cook the sausages for about 20 minutes until cooked through and the sauce is thickened.

Season to taste.

In a deep pot, gently cook the sliced shallots, chopped garlic and thyme, then add the milk and stock and bring to boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the mixture infuse for 10 minutes. Discard the thyme and bring the liquid back the a boil then sprinkle the polenta into the pot. Cook while stirring for 15-20 minutes and finish with the butter, creme fraiche and grated parmesan. Season to taste.







Jano Bistro: ‘Mystical Mushrooms’

By Tom @LoveWelly 
AUG 15, 2019

Once every few years, I have a dining experience that’s borderline spiritual: a moment of food nirvana. In this moment, everything comes together – from the location, to the service, presentation, taste and texture, creativity and showmanship. This is what I experienced at Jano Bistro, August 2019. I didn’t set out to pick a favourite Festival Dish, but here it is, nestled amidst five courses of culinary creativity.

While the Festival Dish mushrooms were my pick of the five courses, each brought something truly unique and exciting: “Same Same But Different” (a fresh take on Jano’s 2016 festival dish winner), “Mystical Mushrooms” (setting mushrooms as the centrepiece tale of a misty morning’s forest forage), “Paint It Black” (Ora King Salmon with cauliflower, spinach & self-painted black yuzu), “Yummm Cha” (duck à l'orange yum cha fusion), and “A feeling of déjà vu” (Fix & Fogg peanut butter, buckwheat, apple, and miso caramel – presented identically to the first course). Each course was also brilliantly paired with a choice of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage, and it was the house-made non-alcoholic options that shone through the brightest – from mushroom cappuccino, to magical colour-changing fermented red cabbage.

I can’t speak highly enough of this feast for the senses.

(Source: VWOAP Blog)

Jano Bistro Mystical Mushrooms.jpg






Eat your way through four or eight courses at this newly refurbished bistro.

By Catherine Reisima 
NOVEMBER 19, 2018

Foodies rejoice — Jano, the charming bistro in the cute yellow cottage on Willis Street, has reopened its doors after a ten-month hiatus.

The unassuming restaurant known for its innovative, elegant food and welcoming vibes is a bit of a darling of the Wellington food scene, with owner and head chef Pierre-Alain Fenoux nabbing several accolades over the last few years, including the coveted Best Festival Dish award at the 2016 Wellington On a Plate.

After a busy three years running Jano, Pierre and his partner and co-owner Diana decided it was time to hit pause for a wee bit to spend time with family and reflect on the Jano journey so far. They also wanted the opportunity to explore some new concepts for their burgeoning business and see where they could to take it next. Now the team have returned with a fresh batch of ideas and energy, and have launched a reimagined restaurant that still boasts all the trimmings that Jano fans have come to know and love.

Scrapping the traditional à la carte menu, Jano have made things simpler for the indecisive diner by instead offering two tasting menus: the smaller four-course Jano Sampler and the indulgent eight-course Jano Experience. Gone are the days of having to commit to just one dish. Now you can try a bit of everything and avoid the dreaded food envy. Whether you just dip your toes in or dive mouth first into all eight courses, this really is the perfect way to get a taste of what Pierre and his team are capable of.

Perusing the menu sample online, the descriptions don't give too much away, but that just adds to the fun, doesn't it? With Jano you can be sure that each course is lovingly crafted and next level delicious. Also expect a few surprises peppered throughout which will have you oohing and aahing. I dare you to keep your camera away.

Along with the format change, the Jano team has branched out to offer a full vegetarian-friendly menu, with some courses offering meat or fish additions if that tickles your tastebuds. In keeping with their laid-back, friendly style, they've also opened up the kitchen area so you can have a yarn with Pierre, and have introduced limited seating each night to give diners a more intimate experience.

Fans will be happy to know that the original Jano philosophy still holds true, including their commitment to sourcing ingredients from local suppliers, keeping things fresh and seasonal, as well as their bistronomy style of dining — serving exquisite food in a relaxed environment.

Just like your favourite band getting back together, Jano is a welcome return. I can't wait to go back for seconds.

Jano is open Wednesday to Sunday, 5.30pm till late, at 270 Willis Street. 

(weblink here)



1 Comment


Dear Jano Friends, we are excited to announce that we will be re-opening our doors on Wednesday 24th October!

Di and Pierre.jpg

After 3 busy years of opening Jano, we decided that it was time to have a rest and spend some quality time together as well as with our loved ones here and overseas. We also wanted the opportunity to step back and reflect on what we have managed to accomplish so far, and to develop on ideas and concepts we have always dreamed of achieving with Jano. There has been plenty of experimenting, research and development, and some renovations which took some time to complete - but we are super stoked with the result and can’t wait to share this with you!


We have developed a new menu concept that we feel truly aligns with both Jano’s values of being an innovative and seasonally-focused restaurant, and our love for delighting and surprising our diners. As our Degustation menu has been so popular throughout the years, we have decided to discontinue the a-la-carte menu and will instead be offering diners 2 tasting menu choices: our smaller ‘Jano Sampler’ or our indulgent ‘Jano Experience’.

Degustations are fun, exciting and adventurous dining experiences, it’s a progressive culinary journey. Each plate takes you to a different place course after course, where you get to explore and try new things you may not normally order off a menu!

You will also notice that we have switched things up a bit by serving full vegetarian-friendly menus with some courses offering non-vegetarian options.

We are also excited to share that we now have some seating available downstairs and more opportunities for interaction with Pierre thanks to our new open kitchen and fireplace. We have also decided to limit the number of covers we take each evening to allow for a more intimate dining experience, so early bookings are highly recommended.

We hope that everyone has had a wonderful year so far and can’t wait to welcome you all back into our little cottage once again!

xx Diana and Pierre

Jano Open Kitchen.jpg

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Jano Bistro's French chef impresses the judges

Sarah Catherall 15:53, Jun 09 2015

( nz - article weblink here)

Relaxing out of his chef whites in a hoodie emblazoned with a Kiwi map, Pierre-Alain Fenoux is embracing New Zealand with aplomb. He may have a French name, and hail from France where he has done much of his cooking, but Fenoux is an adventurous chef who describes his cooking as modern, international cuisine celebrating local flavours.

His debut restaurant, Jano Bistro, has just won a top award in the prestigious Cuisine Good Food Awards, a well-respected runner-up to New Zealand's best new restaurant. Judges described Fenoux's food as "seriously exciting".

Says Fenoux: "It has been my dream to run a restaurant. It's a chance to express myself. When a customer comes out and says thank you, it justifies the 18 hours I may have worked that day."

On Wellington's Clyde Quay wharf, Paul Hoather's reincarnated White House restaurant, Whitebait, was named Best New Restaurant in New Zealand's only nationwide restaurant accolades, with judges raving: "We love that Wellington has a smart, chic restaurant with a seafood focus.". Both Jano Bistro and Whitebait were also recognised with one hat, while Hoather's other eatery, Charley Noble, was awarded a hat. The Larder also retained its hat. Of 76 restaurants reviewed in the Cuisine Good Food Guide, 37 received coveted chef's hats.

Hoather has won awards before and his White House restaurant was a notable eatery on Wellington's fine dining map. But Fenoux is a newbie on the Wellington dining scene, and it's impressive that just six months after cooking his first dish in the celebrated 1880s settlers cottage, his restaurant has won national recognition.

Fenoux had been looking to run his own place for some time, after being second in command at the former Le Canard restaurant in Thorndon, which has now shut down. At Le Canard, he cooked traditional French fare, with lots of butter and cream. He previously shifted to this part of the world to cook in Australia, in Cairns and Melbourne, where he fell in love with Asian food. At Jano, Fenoux moves away from heavy, fussy, French food, serving dishes that are gluten and dairy free.

"I like cooking international cuisine. I missed using ginger and lemongrass. I want a menu that showcases produce. I like to share my fun with my customer," he smiles.

The bistro menu changes regularly. It's refreshingly simple and easy to read. Nothing is described and there's an element of deliberate surprise. So the "Lamb" comes with potatoes, spinach, organic feta and black garlic. The Jano Tasting Plate is dotted with quail, mussels and jerusalem artichoke.

Already, Jano's lemon curd dessert is becoming a signature dish. Served with rosemary, olive oil, orange blossom and poppyseed, he says: "Some people are quite curious about it."

"I respect my produce and I use every bit of it. I use the cauliflower roots, leaves, and all the cob."

Gone is the anguish and fuss from his time working in Michelin star restaurants, where he sweated over a hot stove, often with a dozen other chefs. "In my first job, the head chef was really good but really tough. I was 19, and I was supposed to be the junior chef but after a month he had me in charge of the kitchen. I went home crying every night, there was so much pressure."

Rather than spending six months developing one dish as he has been forced to in the past, he prefers a free style approach. "I like to use what is in season, and you have an epiphany about something and then you create that. Here I can design a dish without the worry."

Fenoux has a gift for flavours and putting them together, according to his partner and bistro co-owner, Diana Goh, a former vintage store owner. "Once he made this dish using Flight Coffee oil powder. He mixed that with duck and it's really hard to imagine how it would look and taste, but it was amazing."

The Willis Street bistro pays homage to its previous descendents - Petit Lyon, The White House and Citron - with many diners booking tables for nostalgic reasons. It's also a nod to Fenoux's late paternal grandfather, Jeannot, who the restaurant is named after. A market gardener in the hills of Savoie, south- eastern France, Jeannot helped raise the chef, and he was known affectionately by his friends as Jano.

Always keen on food and forever found in the kitchen, Fenoux began cooking at the age of 14, when he spent three days cooking in a Michelin-star restaurant in the region of Chaminox, in the French alps overlooking Lake Geneva. "It was exactly where I wanted to be. I felt like I had come home."

And despite the stress of working for two tough chefs in Michelin star restaurants over the years, they have been his greatest mentors. "They taught me the philosophy of cooking which I now share. To forget about pride, and that you have to be humble, and respect and satisfy the customer."

After being largely overlooked in last year's Cuisine Good Food Awards over Auckland eateries, Wellington is back with a vengeance this year. Logan Brown got two hats, while WBC, owned by chef Tom Hutchison and Clay Toomer, won a hat for the first time.

On Majoribanks St, Ortega Fish Shack's Davey McDonald was named Restaurant Personality of the Year, and the establishment he co-owns was also awarded a hat. With a shaggy mop of hair and an infectious grin, McDonald has greeted customers at restaurants on this stretch of the street since the eatery opened its doors more than five years ago. Judges commented on the warmth, knowledge and commitment that McDonald brings to the restaurant.

Also the sommelier, he co-owns the fish shack with his wife, Anna, and chef Mark Limacher, his father-in-law. Just as Limacher has ruled this part of town with his previous restaurants for many years, it's McDonald's patch too.

McDonald began his hospo career on Majoribanks St 14 years ago, starting on the floor at Roxburgh Bistro next door straight out of high school.

The secret to top service is knowing your customers, says McDonald, as about 75 per cent are regulars. "There is a guy who has been dining here since I started. He came in on my birthday with a card and flowers."

"Some of our customers have been coming since we opened, and you get to know them and their lives. Then you'll have the customers who are here on their first or second date and they don't even know we are here."

The Ortega Fish Shack team is proud of its food cooked by head chef Regnar Christensen, who has worked for Limacher's restaurants for 13 years. "We're trying to deliver everything to a high standard, without a stiff, boring, over formalised style," says McDonald.

It's a magic formula and the next plan is to open a bar and eatery next door, in Roxburgh Bistro's former site. Hopefully opening within six months, the 31-year-old says: "We enjoy looking after people here and having fun with them. We're just doing what we love."

For full results, see or get a free copy of the Good Food Guide with Cuisine's July issue (on sale 15 June).

Cuisine Good Food Awards in Wellington:

Two hats

Logan Brown - also 2014

One hat

Charley Noble - also 2014

Ortega - also 2014

Jano Bistro - new

The Larder - also 2014

WBC - new

Whitebait - new

Best New Restaurant: Whitebait

Runner-up: Jano Bistro

Restaurant Personality of the Year: Davey McDonald, Ortega Fish Shack

Cuisine New Zealand Restaurant of the Year: Roots, of Lyttelton.