What's Cooking: Cameron Lawless

Season Cafe's Cameron Lawless is part of the six-member New Zealand Culinary Team about to compete in the American Culinary Classic, starting on Saturday in Chicago.

The team is up against 11 other countries, competing in hot and cold food categories. It's a case of ready, steady, cook.

For hot food, they have to prepare 80 portions of a three-course meal over five hours.

He started out at De Bretts and went on to work at the Dorchester, Berkeley and Ivy restaurants in London.

Other team members are: Jonny Schwass of Sezn, Christchurch; Steve Le Corre of Aoraki Polytechnic, Timaru; Andrew Brown of the Millennium Hotel, Christchurch; Pauline Nunns of Weltec, Wellington; and Darren Wright of Harbour 71, Akaroa.

The best thing about your job?

Getting great feedback from our customers and the exceptional loyalty and support of my team.

The worst?

Early starts and lunchtime power cuts.

The best meal you've ever had?

It was at Antic'e Noe' Restaurant in Florence, Italy. They encapsulate the Slow Food Movement to perfection - everything was so fresh and simple.

Best restaurant locally?

The Jervois Steak House.

What's always in your fridge and cupboards?

Fresh vegetables, curry pastes, taco kits, my partner Angie's dry toasted muesli, and lots of tea.

What's the most useful kitchen gadget?

My Bratt Pan - basically a giant frying pan that you can use to braise, poach and stew.

Your favourite cookbook?

My 1956 11th edition Amy Schauer cookery book. There are some classics in there, like Toad in the Hole.

Who would you most like to cook for you?

The Pourcel brothers of Jardin des Sens on the Cote d'Azure. Their degustation menu has 14 courses in total.

What is the secret to being a good cook?

A passion, understanding the basics of cooking, and consistency.

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