Our Story

How it unfolded

Glowing Embers

During the past 15 years Chef Nathan Butterworth has perfected his trade working in pubs, hotels and fine dining restaurants around the world. He developed a love for fine dining and learnt the importance of, and the know how to, locally source and use the best quality ingredients available. Nathan enjoys fine dining cookery but felt something was missing.  A lack of soul and community that comes with more ‘simple’ flavourful food shared with friends and family, enjoyed in a laid-back, easy-going environment.

He found his missing piece on the coals: “I've had a love for eating food cooked over fire for as long as I can remember. The memories of lighting the coals for family BBQs and that sumptuous taste of meats & vegetables cooked over open flames has always stuck with me. I find that there is just something so rustic and soulful about BBQ that brings people together and provides an experience that everybody can enjoy and be a part of. This is where my heart & soul is.” 

Rising Smoke

Originally from the UK, Nathan made it to Queenstown 8 years ago and was so captured by the scenery, the people and the culture he never left.

He met his wife and co-founder of Old Mates, Ashna Mannu whilst working in the Whitsundays, Australia before heading over to New Zealand. With her support and encouragement, they recently set up their own business. “In 2020 we took the leap. We invested in a small quality offset smoker and started to use our lockdown time to get our meat smoking skills down to a tee.”

When Covid-19 restrictions began to lift Old Mates tested their products at 'The Remarkables Market' which runs every Saturday in Queenstown. “It was a pretty basic set up, but it seemed to be getting the word around. Next thing we knew we had picked up bookings for private functions, a regular stint at the local 'Altitude Brewing' and even some large-scale events.”  Following the initial success of the business, they invested in a 1-ton trailer smoker, enabling them to put their food out to a wider circle of customers. 

The business continues to grow, and Old Mates now own a mobile food trailer, so they are more than equipped to cater for any event, wind, rain or shine.

“This is our true passion, and we enjoy nothing more than putting a smile on people’s faces when they come to try our slow smoked food. Come and say hello next time you see us at an event or pop up near you and we can chat all things BBQ!”

The Journey - captured