Join the Herald Life & Style as we profile New Zealand's top chefs and share their favourite easy dishes
• Episode 1: Sean Connolly, The Grill and Gusto at the Grand
Chef and restauranteur Sean Connolly says he can't quite remember when he decided on a career in cooking, but he always knew academic study wasn't for him.
"My father was an academic, and he could tell I was never going to follow in his footsteps," he says.
Instead, Sean began a chef's apprenticeship at the ripe old age of 13, completed the course at 16, and set off from his hometown of West Yorkshire, Northern England, on his OE.
After falling in love with New Zealand, Sean developed restaurants The Grill and Gusto at the Grand at Auckland's Sky City, and says aspects of Aotearoa remind him of home.
"I'm so impressed with the produce in New Zealand, it's very seasonal, like in Europe," he says. "In those seasons you get very small windows for produce, and there's a real excitement around it."
Sean's love of cooking began when he started helping his grandmother in her kitchen, and the globetrotting chef says for him, food has become about bringing people together.
"What I love about food is that it just reaches out to people. I'm naturally a carer and a nurturer, I like to feed people, it makes me feel good."
Sean's tuna crudo
For an easy yet elegant dish, try Sean's crudo of tuna with apple and radish salad.
"Crudo sounds interesting, but it just means 'raw' in Italian," says Sean. "This dish is super simple."
• You will need
- Tuna steak
- Green apple
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
• Cut an apple into matchsticks, and finely slice a radish. Mix the two together in a bowl or on a chopping board. Add a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil, and gently combine with your fingers.
• Slice a fresh, raw tuna steak into 2cm thick pieces, and arrange on a plate. Using your fingers, gently pile the salad ingredients on top of the tuna. Finish with another squeeze of lemon juice, another drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of fresh pepper to serve.