If you’re looking for someone to give you a restaurant recommendation in NZ – Gareth Stewart has got to be towards, if not at the very top, of your list.
Gareth got his first big break aged just 18 when he landed a job at the prestigious Claridge’s Hotel in London, before joining the team at the Michelin-starred The Greenhouse in Mayfair. In 2007 he moved out to New Zealand – where his wife, Angela, hails from and is now the national executive chef for Nourish Group. You’ll also recognise him from his role on My Kitchen Rules New Zealand.
We had 10 minutes with the busy chef, who is loving being back at Level 1 in Auckland, after a stressful few months – and, found out where we should be heading to eat this long weekend!
During lockdown, what were your go-to meals?
I was cooking a lot of comfort food. The kids love anything with minced beef so there was lots of lasagna, meatballs and Bolognese. But I was also making fried chicken and the mac and cheese recipe I developed for Andiamo was a firm favourite.
It must have been a stressful time, as someone who relies on people going out and enjoying a meal together for your income. How did you get through that time, and what’s it been like since, seeing people heading back out to get together for a meal?
It’s my livelihood so I can appreciate both sides. It was really stressful at the start when we didn’t know how things were going to play out but that’s when we thought on our feet and came up with My Nourish Kitchen so people could still enjoy our restaurant meals at home. It’s been really rewarding to see people getting back out there though. There’s nothing better than being about to go out with friends, relax and enjoy a meal together.
Do you think this year had changed our approach to cooking at all?
Not being able to get takeaways under level four, people started to cook from scratch, even making their own breads, which was awesome to see. I think Kiwis have gotten more adventurous in the kitchen because of all the extra time on their hands.
Has 2020 changed your approach to life at all – how you work/think or your value system?
Don’t take anything for granted as I’ve learned things can change in instant. The world has seen something we’ve never seen before and it’s shown us how much we don’t actually need – we can make do with less.
If you’re hosting friends or family at home, what are your go-to meals to serve?
I personally love to cook European based meals especially anything Greek – Baba ghanoush, hummus, fresh breads, tabbouleh – lots of summery foods. For those that aren’t as confident in the kitchen or just don’t have the time, we created the Banquet Box. It’s a dinner party shortcut and the best way to impress guests without all the usual prep and panic.
If you have friends visiting Auckland for a few days, where do you take them to eat?
I might be biased, but I always take people to Andiamo – it’s such a crowd pleaser. Other favourites are Gemmayze Street in St Kevin’s Arcade or Cassia on Fort Lane.
What about when you’re outside of Auckland? What would be your top places to eat around the country?
Queenstown is my favourite place to visit outside Auckland and I never leave without making the trip to both Amisfield, Jervois Steak House and Ben Bayly’s Aosta in Arrowtown.
When the borders open up again, where’s the first place you’ll be heading?
I won’t be going anywhere I’d prefer to stay put! It’s safer than everywhere else and I absolutely love it here.
Just in time for the festive season, My Nourish Kitchen has created a gourmet food box with the help of Cuisine magazine, especially for sharing (and impressing your friends!). You can check out the Cuisine Banquet box at mynourishkitchen.co.nz