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.

See here for all of Metro's Top 50 Auckland restaurants for 2018

 

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

White Noise: Who is shaping Auckland's future?
101439 2019-01-21 00:00:00Z Auckland Issues

White Noise: Who is shaping Auckland's future?

by Kate Newton

Some Aucklanders have more say in their city's future than others.

Read more
Stephen Fry revisits the world of the Ancient Greeks in Heroes
101242 2019-01-21 00:00:00Z Books

Stephen Fry revisits the world of the Ancient Gree…

by Lauren Buckeridge

In his delightful way, Stephen Fry dips back into the ancient world with more stories of tests, quests and feats of old.

Read more
Comedian Jo Brand on the benefits of not giving a toss
100970 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Profiles

Comedian Jo Brand on the benefits of not giving a…

by Diana Wichtel

Jo Brand’s deadpan style is deceptive, as some blokes have discovered to their very public cost.

Read more
Green Book: A racially themed road-trip drama that stays within the white lines
101345 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Movies

Green Book: A racially themed road-trip drama that…

by James Robins

Green Book joins a long tradition of civil-rights era movies that barely scratch the surface.

Read more
How I caught Marie Kondo's tidying up bug
101329 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Television

How I caught Marie Kondo's tidying up bug

by Diana Wichtel

Four episodes into Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, something snapped.

Read more
The vital importance of full sleep cycles
100962 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Health

The vital importance of full sleep cycles

by Mark Broatch

It’s a myth that older adults need less sleep, says University of California professor of neuroscience and psychology Matthew Walker.

Read more
Searching Great Barrier Island for the meaning of life
101413 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Searching Great Barrier Island for the meaning of…

by Joanna Wane

Joanna Wane goes to Great Barrier Island in search of the answer to life, the universe and everything.

Read more
Australian classic Storm Boy gets a modern remake
101340 2019-01-19 00:00:00Z Movies

Australian classic Storm Boy gets a modern remake

by James Robins

The biggest beak in Oz screen history returns in a remake of a 1970s favourite.

Read more