Eating cockles steeped in vinegar and bashing oysters off Waiheke rocks are Warren Elwin's earliest food memories. The chef, painter, design director, photographer and contributor to sister Jo's Bite magazine — who once managed to knock himself out in the middle of a brunch service — describes his cooking style as 'the big easy'.
We asked him a few more questions . . .
What's your earliest food memory?
The strongest ones are as early as it gets; grandma's cockles steeped in vinegar, bashing oysters off sharp Waiheke rocks for mum, nana's curried mince savouries, peanut brownies, digging for toheroas. You know, family…
Where do you draw your culinary inspiration?
The everyday and yesterday.
Who is your cooking idol?
[Michelin-starred British chef] Fergus Henderson. For loving offal, his nose to tail ethic and flying in the face of adversity.
What is your greatest cooking achievement to date?
Satisfaction from your guests, family and friends. Being the perennial host.
What's your favourite meal?
The next one.
What's your biggest kitchen disaster?
Slipping over behind my station at [Wellington's] Brasserie Flipp at the height of a brunch service and knocking myself unconscious.
If you could eat anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
On the streets of Vietnam and Sri Lanka. For obvious spicy reasons!
What are your kitchen must haves?
A fresh pepper mill, good salt, NZ home grown lemons, ginger, fresh coriander, the Cuisinart mini food processor and hot sauce.
Why do you love cooking?
The best people in the world love food.
Who is your dream dinner guest?