Meet the award-winning chef of Auckland's Cazador

by Paperboy / 31 May, 2017

Dariush Lolaiy of Cazador on winning a very special award

How does it feel to be crowned Metro’s Best Chef of 2017?
Pretty unreal. I’m not one of those guys who sets out to be the best – I just want to do my thing, and do it the very best I can. But it was a really proud moment which I share with my mum and dad [chefs Barbara and Tony Lolaiy, former Cazador owners], wife and co-owner Rebecca [Smidt], our sous chef Brendan [Kyle] and mate and colleague João [Martins], who have all shaped my cooking, and the restaurant that’s given me the opportunity to do what I love.

What are some common misconceptions about Cazador, and your food?
I guess the main misconception is that we’re all about heavy, meaty dishes. We serve meat, but our point of difference is that we source wild-caught, sustainable meat and make a balanced bistro menu from proteins others rarely use. We always offer line-caught seafood, and, believe it or not, I love cooking and eating vegetarian dishes. We’d like to think that we’re demystifying our ingredients by demonstrating that like any protein, wild meat, sub-prime cuts and offal can be hearty and generous, or light and delicate depending on the season and dish.

 

 

A local restaurant reviewer recently suggested that venison is only edible when stewed, and that meat goes horrendously with fruit. So what possessed you to combine chargrilled venison with grapes?
I can’t think where I picked up on this idea. I know some guys were kicking around with fruit and meat in medieval times, and that it’s a fundament of Persian cookery. I suppose it’s prevalent in Italian and French cuisine, too? Maybe, subconsciously, I thought it might work. Call me ludicrous, but I’m going with it.

Do you follow trends at all in your cooking? Is it ever hard to resist them?
I’m definitely informed and excited by things I read about and enjoy at other restaurants. But I try hard to make innovative dishes without letting any new cooking technology or food fads sneak into the kitchen. As much as I’d like to play with some of those tech bits and pieces every now and then, it’s not what my food is about.

What elements of your cooking do you owe to your parents?
I owe my food ethics to my dad: he taught me hunting and butchery and that when a person takes an animal for food, they should respect that life by using every part of it, and waste nothing. He also taught me the techniques I use most often – spit-roasting, smoking, contact cooking and charcuterie, all of which he still helps me out with. My mum taught me about flavours and balance, and she broadened my ingredient knowledge through exposure to Iranian, Mexican, Burmese and Cypriot cooking from her time living in these places before she became a chef.

Read more on Metro's Top 50 Restaurants here.

Latest

Golfer Bryson DeChambeau's scientific quest for a consistent swing
96600 2018-09-20 11:33:10Z Sport

Golfer Bryson DeChambeau's scientific quest for a …

by Paul Thomas

Bryson DeChambeau has put himself in the top spot for the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake with a single-minded drive to simplify the game.

Read more
Housing NZ to reimburse hundreds evicted on flawed meth testing
96594 2018-09-20 10:03:55Z Politics

Housing NZ to reimburse hundreds evicted on flawed…

by Jo Moir

Housing NZ has committed to compensating hundreds of tenants it evicted from state homes based on bogus meth testing, some of whom were made homeless.

Read more
Shortland Street is turning into a metaphor for the Trump White House
96588 2018-09-20 09:27:11Z Television

Shortland Street is turning into a metaphor for th…

by Diana Wichtel

An extra night of Shortland Street won’t change the psycho storylines or the mad characters who act without consequence.

Read more
Why GE grass will be the next divisive issue for the coalition Government
96475 2018-09-20 00:00:00Z Politics

Why GE grass will be the next divisive issue for t…

by Jane Clifton

As the Government gropes all over in reports and reviews for answers, it looks like GE grass may not be one.

Read more
Funny Girls gets serious about suffrage in new comedy special
96571 2018-09-20 00:00:00Z Television

Funny Girls gets serious about suffrage in new com…

by Russell Brown

A comedy special with the Funny Girls sheds light on New Zealand women’s historic winning of the right to vote.

Read more
How to ease symptoms of IBS and endometriosis with the right diet
96373 2018-09-20 00:00:00Z Nutrition

How to ease symptoms of IBS and endometriosis with…

by Jennifer Bowden

Diets low in fodmaps are a saviour for people with irritable bowel syndrome and endometriosis, helping to manage the gastrointestinal symptoms.

Read more
The web browsers’ war on user tracking
96529 2018-09-19 13:01:40Z Tech

The web browsers’ war on user tracking

by Peter Griffin

The reach of tech giants Facebook and Google goes well beyond their own websites to capture your web browsing. So how can you stop them tracking you?

Read more
Emails between Clare Curran and Derek Handley to be revealed
96499 2018-09-19 08:04:02Z Politics

Emails between Clare Curran and Derek Handley to b…

by Gia Garrick

Copies of former minister Clare Curran's personal emails to tech entrepreneur Derek Handley are expected to be released to Parliament this afternoon.

Read more