When did you decide to become a chef?
I always loved food (I mean, who doesn’t?) On a school trip to France I experienced amazing French cuisine in our hotel restaurant and that’s when the magic began.
Who taught you how to cook?
My Mom taught me a lot of traditional English cuisine – think roasts with Yorkshire puddings, horseradish sauce and homemade gravy. My grandmother was a chef as well, so it runs in my blood. I also worked with a nutritionist for a while so I learnt lots about meal plans and balanced diets.
What is your favourite dish?
It used to be lasagne, but Japanese street food is my current favourite. It is fresh, has settled flavours and has a modern twist. I generally like very fresh, low fat and healthy that is quick to make.
At Aria Restaurant I like to cook food from the Auckland region using fresh, local ingredients, but with a twist, so that it incorporates different tastes from around the world. I try to reflect as many cultures as possible in my dishes and hope that it makes our international guests feel a little more at home.
What is your favourite part about your job?
I definitely enjoy working in our team – they are incredible and the more I get to know about them, the more hidden talents I find! I know it’s strange but I also really enjoy the stressful surrounding of a commercial kitchen, it pushes me to challenge myself on a daily basis. It’s also our job to put smiles on faces through the art of cooking – it doesn’t get much better than that.
What is your most memorable chef moment?
In the last 20 years I cooked for many celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Snoop Dog, Guns N’ Roses, Ed Sheeran, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Jack Black. You always feel a little more pressure when cooking for a VIP, but you definitely remember them.
What are your top three ingredients you can’t live without?
- Ginger & garlic (which also rhymes with my last name Harlick and was my nickname in school) Sorry that was two…
- Olive oil
- Cheese – it just makes everything better!
What is your favourite cuisine and why?
I really like Japanese food, but my favourite would be Italian. There is a lot of tradition in it and it tells a story.
What do you do in your free time?
I have a dog which I love to spoil, and I go running. When I am not cooking my partner makes me do the dishes.