GetFrank interviews Head Chef Gareth Stewart

Gareth Stewart hails from the UK and is currently the Head Chef of Soul Bar and Bistro, Auckland, winner of Cuisine’s Restaurant of the year 2009. GetFrank caught up with him to tell us what it's like being a Chef in New Zealand.

What 5 kitchen essentials should no man be without?

Really good olive oil, a strong team, Vita mixer (blender), a good oven, pestle and mortar 

Wine or beer?

Wine. I definitely have a new appreciation to wine since moving to NZ. Wine can go along side so many foods. Beer is great for when you have finished work and you need to sink a cold beer, also great with curry.

What’s your most/least favourite aspect of your job?

The hours are not the most sociable but you get used to them after a while. Dealing with other peoples lack of passion would be least favourite part of my job.

I love a busy service where the whole team is in tune with each other and the food is going out just how you have designed it and having great feedback from our guest.

What would be your last meal?

Jamaican ‘curried goat with rice an peas’, fried dumpling with akee and salt fish, chilli and beef pattise would be on the menu. 

Why did you decide to be a chef? 

I was about 8 when I started to bake with my mother and grew a passion for putting food together. I have always just felt at home in the kitchen. I could not imagine doing anything else.

Food-tainment has taken over our TV screens it seems: What do you think about that and do you think it’s inspiring kiwi men to cook?

It is really good to see that food has taken over tv. It gets people interested in food and it also helps people understand what really goes on behind those kitchen doors at the restaurant. Not all kitchens are like ‘Ramsay’s hell’s kitchen’ but chefs do work extremely hard and they are now starting to be appreciated. Also programes like hunger for the wild is great especially for men as they can see the whole process of hunting and cooking. It is done so well by two very passionate cooks

Is cooking a meal for a lady the ultimate pick-up strategy? And what would you suggest?

It worked for me…. I think that anybody would appreciate you if you can cook. I would play it cool and keep it simple. The fact that you have taken the time and care to cook something for somebody would score high points. It is really personal. Always cook something that you have practiced, you don’t want to stress yourself out before a date.

What’s the training to become a Head Chef involve?

I have been cooking for nearly 14 years, so I guess it takes that amount of time.  You do not really get trained to be a head chef, you just take the initiative. You must always want to be the leader and want to show the way. Head chefs are not necessarily great managers for this reason. You are always taught how to cook well and be a good chef so it is always up to you, to become a good manager. When you can master both cooking and managing you have got it sorted! 

How did you get here?

Whilst living and working in London I was hanging out with a lot of Kiwis and found my wife at a party. I did not realise at the time that I would be moving to NZ. I applied for the job whilst being in London and Judith flew me over for a week to cook for her. I got the job.

Ultimate ambition?

I would like to write a book about what I do and love -food

What foods should Kiwi men be proud of and take advantage of?

Kiwis have a lot to be proud of. The seafood here is awesome boasting some of the best oysters in the world. The fresh seasonal produce here is done very well. I still believe that some of the vegetable products could be improved for example producing our own mushrooms and getting a wider variety of products that are available to the rest of the world. I do miss London for that. 

Finally, If you had one superhero power, what would it be?

If I could fly then going home to the UK wouldn’t be so expensive.

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  • I love the question "What would be your last meal?"...that is something that I know every guy out there has thought about many times before. My answer is at the opposite end of the scale to Gareth Stewart's ideal meal though...mine would be a mince and cheese pie with crinkle cut fries followed by a banofee pie with plenty of whipped cream. Our answers couldn't be more different...which probably betrays my lack of skill in the kitchen and taste for fast food...

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