Chef Interview: Gareth Stewart / Soul Bar
What are your favourite Sabato ingredients and why? has the most incredible colour and sweetness. is too good to miss. Piquillo peppers are great for dressing salads and have a great bitter sweet smoky flavour. Espelette pepper puree is intensely hot but a great contrast in some dishes.
What's your favourite thing to cook when you're at home? I am very much into simple pasta dishes, anything I can eat out of a bowl and served with really good bread and extra virgin olive oil. There is usually some kind of spicy chorizo with tomatoes and fresh herbs being tossed through some kind of pasta on most nights.
What makes this a successful kitchen/you a successful chef? Consistency is essential when doing the numbers we do. Recipes are followed religiously. I am very passionate about my craft and career and try to encourage the passion.
Best advice for someone wanting to get into a kitchen? Keep pestering the Head Chef. Get yourself a trial in a good kitchen and jump into service. Do not hold back! Once you have the relevant experience get yourself overseas to broaden your experience
What's your guilty pleasure, food-wise? Chocolate, butter, cream and extra virgin olive oil - I could happily drink EVO when it's good! Also if you could get fresh foie gras here I would probably be a few kg's heavier...
Sweet or savoury? Both - having an awesome pastry chef work for you I do tend to spend a lot of time in the pastry kitchen. I love snacking on toast too.
Where are your favourite destinations to dine? I fell in love with Thailand and the food whilst over there for a month. I love the aromatic flavours and the heat of chilli. Japan is next!
Three words that sums up your cooking style? Fun, simple and intelligent.
What's your ultimate comfort food? Curried goat with rice and peas, jerk chicken and ackee and salt fish...Yum.
What's your favourite drink? Champagne.
How has your cooking style evolved over the years? I have become more thoughtful about my food and I like to expand on the ingredients and use each ingredient to its fullest getting the best from each product and incorporating great colours, flavours and textures. Also being in New Zealand I have learnt to be more seasonal.
What's the best thing about NZ food? You have to be seasonal as outside of the season it is very hard to get hold of the product.
If you could cook a meal for anyone, who would it be and what would you cook? I would cook for my first head chef, Edward Rolfe. He was my first inspiration and although looking back at the food now it wasn't the best but it seemed like he knew everything. I would cook him something from the 'La Repertoire' as he used to make me study it!
If you weren't a chef what would you be doing? I cannot imagine doing anything else. I would love to be a boutique hotel reviewer working all over the world.
What's your signature dish? I don't have one, I have many dishes I like to cook but I don't yet have one that I can say is my signature dish.
Favourite tool of the trade? Rational oven.
What's your favourite seasonal produce? Spring is maybe my favourite season, getting milk fed lamb and artichokes, and then late summer for tomatoes and delicious stone fruits... I love all the seasons for all their different products. Once I have had a specific product for too long I am over it and move onto the next.
Soul Bar Viaduct Harbour Auckland City Auckland 1010 Tel (09) 356 7249 view website