Mansfield’s Head Honcho

Mansfield’s Head Honcho’s Bonnie and Tristan, the flavour wizard, have been putting Mansfield on the food map for four years now.  From the Mornington Peninsula, where Tristan had a catering company, they both love the snow. Doing seasons at Mt Buller, Tristan helped with the menus and setting up Black Cockatoo, The Birdcage, and Kooroora. Wanting to run his own restaurant, they thought it would be a smart move to open something in Mansfield, where there weren’t many dining options.

Published February 28, 2024.  Photos Riley Matthews Words Mandy Lamont

The Fields

Moving to Mansfield at the end of 2019, they opened up The Fields at the end of Jan 2020. Two months later it was closed. Not being able to enjoy Mansfield for the first two years, they have been working hard ever since. A new business, they weren’t entitled to any assistance throughout covid, so they knuckled down and toughed it out. Offering different specials each week to keep things interesting. “We always envisioned it would be a little bar and eatery, but it ended up becoming this Asian powerhouse. They’re the flavours everyone wants.” Bonnie tells me. Getting bored of things quickly Tristan likes to keep the menu interesting for the locals, their main clientele. But hopefully not annoy them by taking off their favourites, it’s a fine line. Supported by the Mansfield community, Bonnie and Tristan wouldn’t be where they are if it wasn’t for the people of Mansfield.

Cooking with fire

Cooking on open fire is Tee’s real passion. When the opportunity arose to open a restaurant in a beautiful heritage fronted building, they took it.  Opening Honcho’s at the end of July 2023. Meaning boss, or head honcho, they want it to be a powerhouse. A strong bar with strong food and cocktails. Importing a 1.5 metre charcoal grill from Brazil. Tristan’s been to Mexico a million times and loves the food and the freshness, which they thought was lacking in Mansfield.

Honcho's Menu

Serving up more traditional dishes, Honcho’s does tacos, tostada, and aguachile which is like a ceviche but more South American based. A little pistachio pico verde, and a few meat pieces either slow cooked or charred over the grill. The Charcoal Half Chicken, Lamb Barbacoa, a traditional Mexican dish, and Pork Hanida. Cooked in its own fat and pulled apart with citrus and lots of yummy stuff. They’re served family style, with sides, tortillas, and lots of fun bits and pieces. It’s delish. Bonnie tells me as my mouth is watering.

Honcho’s star dish and local favourite, is the birria spliff. A unique take on the extremely messy birria taco, rolled up into a cigar and deep fried. You can elegantly get in there and enjoy all the flavours without getting it all over you. It’s meaty, cheesy, gooey and delicious.

With two restaurants open on the same nights, Tristan has created the menu’s for both restaurants and is the chef at The Fields while Bonnie works front of house at Honcho’s.

Work Life Balance

With their plates full, Bonnie and Tristan have recently closed their gourmet grocery shop The Good’s to get a better work/life balance. “The last four years have been non-stop,” Bonnie tells me. “It’ll be good for Tee to have that break. He works really hard, it’ll be good to step back a bit.”

Tristan and Bonnie are planning some fun collaboration dinners here with friends Kurt and Megan, owners of Hometown and Tomahawks in Bright. Keep a look out for those.

Check out Honcho’s dine in and take- away menu’s on their web site here

You might also be interested in Mansfield Dining guide here

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