Meet the chefs from Taste of Auckland

We get the lowdown on favourite foods, kitchen gadgets and dinner guests.

Kyle Street, head chef at Auckland's Depot. Photo / Wairarapa Time- Age
Kyle Street, head chef at Auckland's Depot. Photo / Wairarapa Time- Age

KYLE STREET, THE DEPOT

Why be a chef? It's by no means an easy profession. But every day brings new challenges. It's a rush when you have 70 customers to cook for at one time.

Current favourite ingredient? Right now I'm using whole milk-fed lamb from Kingsmeade Cheeses in Wairarapa.

What excites you about being a chef right now? I really enjoy the emerging casual scene here in Auckland, eating great food in a relaxed atmosphere.

At Taste what will you be doing? Shucking mountains of Mahurangi oysters, grilling pulled pork sliders, and flaming lemon meringue pies.

What keeps you awake at night? Depot, it's a beast. We serve up to 500 people a day, and ensuring every customer gets what I intended is on my mind 24/7.

Name another chef you admire? Al [Brown]. Not only is he an amazing chef, but he is so open-minded, nothing is unachievable.

Favourite kitchen appliance? Our Charcoal Grill is the single most used piece of equipment in Depot, it imparts such great flavour.

When you're not in the kitchen what do you get up to? Film is probably my other big hobby, I'm into old school horror movies.

What's always in your pantry? Hot sauce. I cook a lot of street-food inspired dishes and have multiple different hot sauces.

Dream dinner guests? I think Anthony Bourdain.

Desert island dish? Definitely American hot dogs. They remind me of home and my friends.

MANDY LUSK, VIVACE

Why be a chef? Because its creative, social, fast-paced and keeps you on your toes.

Current favourite ingredient? Coriander; blend the root and stalks with shallots ginger, turmeric and chilli, fry and add coconut milk and fish sauce (another fave) and good stock. A damn fine base for a laksa.

At Taste what will you be cooking? Small sweet stuffed piquante chilli peppers, a great lamb ragu and a panfried gnocchi.

What keeps you awake at night? Too much coffee.

Another chef you admire? Peter Gordon. I love what he did back in the day with all the Asian fusion.

Favourite kitchen appliance? The blender. Life is a lot easier with it.

When you're off duty what do you cook? Grilled chicken on ciabatta with Japanese mayo, mesclun salad, smear of kasundi.

What's always in your pantry? Rice noodles. Quick and easy to whip up meals.

Dream dinner guests? George, my grandfather, because I miss him and would love a good catch-up.

Desert island dish? Whole roasted snapper with Asian-style slaw. It's easy to do over a fire on a island.

EUGENE HAMILTON, EURO

What excites you about being a chef right now? So many people are embracing food much more and people's perceptions are changing so the canvas is much broader.

Current favour ingredient? Cloudy bay clams, raw with Prelibato white balsamic.

At Taste what will you be cooking? Dishes from our current menu, and in the demo kitchen showing you how to prepare classic Euro dishes.

What keeps you awake at night? I get the chance to sleep, my body doesn't allow me to waste it.

Name another chef you admire? Simon Gault, for the innovative and inspirational way he approaches food and kitchens and the restaurant industry.

Favourite kitchen appliance? The 40-year-old Kenwood mixer my grandmother left me and my De Dietrich induction hob.

When you're not in the kitchen what do you get up to? My head and heart are always in the kitchen in one way or another.

What do you always have in the pantry? QP mayonnaise, it's versatile and my daughters love it.

NICK HONEYMAN, THE COMMONS

Why be a chef? I love to eat and love to cook; it sometimes feels unfair I am being paid to do both!

Current favour ingredient? Scampi. Sous-vide for 2mins at 60C in lemon oil they are like butter in your mouth.

What excites you about being a chef right now and why? Everyone is thinking about what they are eating which makes cooking for them satisfying and challenging.

At Taste what will you be cooking? Confit Duck leg inspired by Panang curry, carrot cake snapper and violet and chocolate; three dishes that provoke thought about origins and flavour pairings.

What keeps you awake at night? I flick through cookbooks at the end of the night and get myself into a state with new ideas and concepts by the time I get to bed.

Name another chef you admire? In NZ one of my mentors is Mark Gregory who has seen it all from the glory of winning chef of the year in Britain to Michelin stars. He is a humble man with a huge amount of talent. Dineaid is just one of the examples of this.

What is your favourite kitchen appliance and why? Who can go past the Kitchenaid? It's versatile, strong and comes in red so it goes faster right?

When you're off-duty what do you cook? Pasta. Lots of pasta with plenty of good olive oil.

What's always in your pantry? Flaky sea salt. You often take your time choosing the best ingredients for your dinner so you should also season it with the best.

Dream dinner guests? My whole family. Spread across three continents, it has never happened.

Desert island dish? A whole Iberico Pig on the spit.

ROB RICHARDSON, MOLTEN

Why be a chef? To do something a little less ordinary - it can be creative, exciting and pacy, buzzing. It can also be mundane, hot and sweaty and anti-social.

Current favour ingredient? Right now it's all the new season produce - asparagus, new potatoes, scallops, strawberries - my favourites change with the seasons.

What excites you about being a chef right now? The explosion of small producers doing and making amazing things.

At Taste what will you be cooking? I'll be slow roasting some short rib with white anchovies and then to finish, it'll be Kumeu strawberries with Clevedon buffalo yoghurt pannacotta.

How would you staff describe you? At the moment, absent. I'm just coming back from breaking my leg.

What keeps you awake at night? Apart from the leg ... ?

Who do you admire? Any of the chefs who are top of the game right now - Martin Bosley, Geoff Scott, Simon Wright, Sid Sahrawat, Michael Meredith, Al Brown.

Favourite kitchen appliance? Bench-top mixers - I hate creaming butter and sugar.

When you're off duty what do you cook? One-pot wonders. It's quite hard to get enthused at home.

When you're not in the kitchen what do you get up to? I play football and break my leg.

Dream dinner guests? Any of those top chefs - I'd make it pot luck.

Desert island dish? Ice cream - but you'd have to be quick.

SHANE YARDLEY, FISH

Why be a chef? Great job satisfaction, seeing guests enjoying themselves eating the food that you and your team prepare.

Current favour ingredient? Asparagus. Bang in season and is one of my all-time favourite vegetables. Serve it with a softly cooked egg and truffle.

At Taste what will you be cooking? Snapper, a prawn curry and a raw dish with trevally. I will doing a demonstration on Saturday evening.

How would you staff describe you? Someone who is passionate and really cares about what we serve.

What keeps you awake at night? New menu ideas, new food trends, late night All Black games.

Name another chef you admire? Simon Gault. He gave me my start and has had a lot influence on my journey as a chef.

Favourite kitchen appliance? My microplane. Great for that quick pasta that needs parmigiarno.

When you're off duty what do you cook? When it is cold, something low and slow; when it is hot the barbecue is king.

What's always in your pantry? Pasta, EVO and dried chilli flakes.

Desert island dish? A whole fish wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked over an open fire.

ANTONIO CRISCI, PODERI CRISCI

Why be a chef? Because I like to eat good food.

Current favour ingredient? Mozzarella has always been in my dream if I can't get any. At the moment I like to shred it.

At Taste what will you be cooking? A fish salad, one of my favourite dishes.

What keeps you awake at night? More than being awake at night I will describe myself as an early riser, I like to plan in advance .

Name another chef you admire? My grandmother, she keeps inspiring me.

Favourite kitchen appliance? My knives, they keep me company.

What do you always have in the pantry? San Pellegrino, I must be always thirsty.

Dream dinner guests? My friends; they always love everything I prepare for them.

What would be your desert island dish? Seafood is good for your brain.

DES HARRIS, CLOONEY

Why be a chef? Its my hobby, I'm doing what I love. I get to be creative plus I'm always learning some thing new every day.

What is your current favourite ingredient? NZ wakame, at last it's available.

What excites you about being a chef? Right now all I'm thinking about is the challenge of Taste Auckland.

At Taste what will you be cooking? Razorback pig, saikou salmon and creme brulee.

What keeps you awake at night? I have learnt to zone out and relax. The long hours generally take care of the sleep thing.

Name another chef you admire? There are so many chefs to admire, but one that stands out for me is Christian Pulgasi from Copenhagen. I saw his master class in Melbourne earlier this year and have been following him ever since.

Favourite kitchen appliance? The thermomix, you can do most things in it, from making yogurt to liquidising purees, steaming, braising, making bread ...

When you're off duty what do you cook? Simple things that a young family will eat.

What's always in your pantry? I have a sushi kit so I can make the kids sushi on demand. they inhale the stuff.

ANTON LEYLAND & JUAN BALSANI, KERMADEC

Why be a chef?
Juan: Cooking and music has always been and still is a big passion of mine. As I am a better chef then musician, I had no choice.

Anton: To be creative; having something in your mind then bringing it into physical manifestation.

Current favourite ingredient?
Juan: I am fascinated about everything to do with chocolate. I try to have a little bit of chocolate in all of my dishes.

Anton: Katsuobushi. An amazing ingredient from Japan, it's smoked, fermented sundried skipjack tuna - hard as wood. A beautiful accompaniment to Asian-inspired dishes.

At Taste what will you be cooking?
Juan: I will making my chocolate balloon. We are mixing two of our most popular desserts into one using creative techniques.

Anton: I'll be showcasing my tuna tartare and freshly shaved katsuobushi and my wild venison.

How would you staff describe you?
Juan: Just another member of the team.

Anton: A passionate, patient, perfectionist ... oh and maybe a little wacky too

What keeps you awake at night?
Juan: Many of my friends are in the hospitality industry so it is very easy to get carried away into the night.

Anton: My two-year-old boy and eight-month-old girl!

Name another chef you admire.
Juan: Both my grandmothers - both of them are really inspiring cooks.

Anton: Any chef who's ahead of the game and not afraid of putting their personality on the plate.

Favourite kitchen appliance?
Juan: As a pastry chef I rely on a set of scales and a working freezer and oven.

Anton: My fish slice - I've had it for 16 years

What's always in your pantry?
Juan: Chocolate and sugar.

Anton: Nuts - quick healthy snack - good for the brain!

Desert island dish?
Juan: Bananas and mangoes.

Anton: Gotta be those big juicy sexy mangoes ... Maybe shave some fresh coconut flesh over them with my Swiss army knife.

SERGIO MAGLIONE, TOTO

Why be a chef? Why not! For the love of food of course.

At Taste what will you be cooking? A Salmon dish, a fresh pasta dish and a pork dish I believe represents Toto's and Italian food.

Name another chef you admire? My good friend Enzo Carbome who lives in Shanghai. He has great food concepts and has taken it to China, Istanbul and soon New York.

Favourite kitchen appliance? My pasta machine, I love fresh pasta.

When you're off duty what do you cook? I like to use the barbecue; it keeps things simple.

When you're not in the kitchen what do you get up to? I like to go fishing whenever I get the chance with a good friend of mine.

What's always in your pantry? Salt and extra virgin olive oil. It speaks for itself.

Desert island dish? Freshly caught octopus, braised, dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon.

JAVIER CARMONA, MEXICO

Favourite ingredient? Palmitos (heart of palm). It has a wonderful flavour.

What excites you about being a chef? The feeling that there are no limitations and that the only creative constraint I have is my enthusiasm.

Favourite kitchen appliance? Giant stick blender. Makes fast work of dips, sauces.

At home I cook ... When I have time, I love to get together family and friends. I do a massive paella or tagine. They allow me to spend time having a beer and being involved with guests.

What's always in your pantry? Hot sauces. Running a Mexican restaurant, you end up with an abundance of samples. It's a good thing my father-in-law loves them.

Desert island dish? I could eat loads of fresh seafood. Just caught, eaten in minutes with a lovely glass of water.

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- NZ Herald

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