Simon is the Executive Chef at Smokepit & Buoy restaurant, within The Spencer Hotel in Takapuna
Tell us about the best thing that’s happened/happening in your year
Definitely the highlight of 2021 has been that I got married! We had an intimate wedding in our back garden, and of course, I organised and cooked all the food! I prepared Ribs, smoked Lamb Shoulder, Jamaican Jerk BBQ Chicken and a huge bowl of raw fish.
It was an incredibly special day, with close friends and family and my two daughters were with us which meant such a lot to me and my new wife Rebecca.
That’s the trouble with being a Chef, is that you can’t help yourself – in any situation, you can’t help being passionate about food and wanting to get involved! Even on your Wedding Day!
What couldn’t you live without
My family – and of course, any kind of fresh Seafood! I don’t have a favourite, I love it all! Recently we’ve had some amazing Moon Fish which was a real treat.
What were your early experiences in the kitchen like?
It was very much sink or swim, however I was fortunate enough to work alongside some very talented Chefs including Darren Elmes and Keith McPhee – they both not only taught me the fundamentals and techniques that I still use today but also their values and passion which are the main ingredients to a successful career in this industry.
My first role as a Commis Chef at CinCin on Quay was so busy – it really was an environment that could make or break you. It was exhausting but incredibly fulfilling. I worked with the Woodfired Pizza Oven, and I’d be making around 60 pizzas a night, working alongside an amazing crew of Chefs where we would serve up to 250 covers a night. This role really fired my passion for food, and led me down my path.
‘Low and Slow’ seems pretty hot right now, what’s your favourite thing on the menu?
After tinkering with different wood chips, temperatures and seasonings, my favourite item on our menu are our St Louis Cut Pork Ribs. The meat drops off the bone, the flavour of the meat is a great balance with the smoke and the sticky sauce – the pork absorbs the smoke really well and is an amazing combination, you can’t help but lick your fingers!
And what’s a classic that your customers just won’t let you change?
Our Fish Dishes are always very popular – our supplier, Lee Fisheries deliver us with the most amazing catch – the best quality line caught fish I’ve every had the pleasure of dealing with – it is World class! And because we buy it “green” and whole and we fillet it inhouse, we know that every fish is a very special product, every time.