Mark Southon is British born but refers to himself as Kiwi at heart. After training at several Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe he travelled south, until he finally set up camp in New Zealand. He's made regular appearances on TV and in 2017 he published his book Southon Cooking.
Your favourite recipe you cook for yourself?
I love cooking anything Asian – it’s fast, fresh and super-tasty.
The one thing you always have in your fridge?
Duck or beef fat – mainly for roast potatoes.
If you could impart one piece of cooking knowledge to everyone, what would it be?
Season, season, and season!
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
That’s my idea of HELL! My taste always needs to change and to be challenged. But, if I had to pick, it would be the humble potato, because they're very versatile and, with different methods of preparation, they can taste completely different.
Can you recall the moment when you knew you wanted to pursue a career in food?
I was exposed to different flavours and textures from a young age, through my mum's cooking.
Your go-to dinner party meal?
Making pizzas in my outdoor wood-fired oven – so much fun and everybody gets involved!
What music, if any, do you like to listen to while cooking?
At home I listen to Oasis, and currently Imagine Dragons as my daughter loves them. I remember at Melbourne Restaurant Vue de monde we used to listen to music whilst we prepped in the morning – Groove Armada featured a lot.
Biggest kitchen disaster?
Working with Mike Puru on the set of Three TV show The Café... We’ve had a fair few hiccups, but now three years in he’s a fantastic sous chef.
Your guilty pleasure?
Butter and the new Perky Nana Lumps.
In all your travels, where have you experienced the best food?
I love simple, tasty, local food. The worldwide Dai Tai Fung restaurant franchise does both a truffle and a chocolate dumpling – these are incredible.
Is there one cookbook you go back to time and time again?
White Heat by Marco Pierre White, a true classic and amazing food. It's very dated now – it was published in 1990 – but it still inspires me to this day.
The kitchen utensil you can't live without?
A good Japanese chef knife.
You're currently craving?
Chilli! Culley's Hot Sauce and a good chow chili oil are my go-to to add to any dish.
Any advice to new cooks?
It’s a hard industry with unsociable hours, so being passionate is key. Work hard and listen to chefs around you and you will succeed in becoming a great chef.
American Express Restaurant Month: Mark is teaming up with James Beck of Bistronomy and foraging expert Riki Bennett for an exclusive event, Foraged, a unique dining experience at O’Connell Street Bistro on Friday 23 August. Together, Mark, James, and Riki will skilfully design a menu that features and showcases foraged ingredients with plenty of the charm and sophistication that O’Connell Street’s customers have long known to expect. For more information and to purchase tickets, see here.