Nic moved from Australia to New Zealand in his teenage years. Here, he trained to become a chef before jetting off to Japan for many years. His love for Japanese cuisine is notable in his cooking and ever-popular restaurants. He is an avid lover of seafood and wishes he could teach everyone how to cook the perfect soft-boiled eggs.
Your favourite recipe you cook for yourself?
Wow – that’s almost impossible – with that said and spring around the corner, I have a small taco press and I make my own fresh-pressed corn maize tacos – I tend to use fresh seafood and homemade salsas to go in the filling.
The one thing you always have in your fridge?
I always have a pot of hot pepper paste – Gochujang paste – it's super-versatile and adds incredible umami and heat.
If you could impart one piece of cooking knowledge to everyone, what would it be?
How to boil an egg – so it's soft in the centre. It simply requires five items – heat, pot, water, egg, time...
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
If I had to be sustained by one food source, it would have to be seafood. If I had to narrow that to one item, I think it would be kahawai – easy to catch so I won’t starve, fast-growing so sustainable, and most importantly, it is seriously delicious eaten raw, cured or cooked. Plus it's full of good fish oils.
Can you recall the moment when you knew you wanted to pursue a career in food?
Yes, I cut cucumber on the bench at my first restaurant and the chef went nuts – I was a waiter trying my hand in the kitchen – needless to say, I loved the kitchen and never looked back.
Your go-to dinner party meal?
I always cook whole joints of meat or sides of fish for dinner parties – like a side of salmon roasted on a cedar plank with hot pepper and miso.
Who is your food hero?
Can I mix Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein into one? They are both great ambassadors for the industry!
What music, if any, do you like to listen to while cooking?
My daughter Kiana’s playlist – she is 14 years old and controls all the music in the house.
Biggest kitchen disaster?
I did recently cook whole chickens baked in clay and had to recook them – as they came out a little under – important to note that the guests were sitting directly in front of me at the counter. However, after a quick flash through a hot oven, they were perfect and nobody was the wiser.
Your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure would have to be Macadamia, Coconut and Strawberry Balls – I tend to munch a couple every night I am home.
In all your travels, where have you experienced the best food?
Easy question – the best food travels have been Japan and Peru. They both encompass the freshest of seafood paired with simple harmony of flavours. This is exactly why I am opening my new restaurant INCA, a Peruvian and East-Asian blend to share my love of both cuisines.
Is there one cookbook you go back to time and time again?
There isn't really one book that I refer to regularly; however, I would say that I have one book that has been across my career journey – The French Laundry Cookbook – It is somewhat timeless.
The kitchen utensil you can't live without?
Diamond steel – you should always give your knives a rub across steel before using; think of the old butchers always sharpening.
You're currently craving?
I have been on a mission to make the perfect fresh-pressed corn taco – there are so many options to add in flavour. I am currently working with nori and sansho pepper, in the corn, to give the taco umami and spice. You might see this on the INCA menu…
Any advice to new cooks?
Work hard, be a sponge, learn, ask questions and ask more questions. Knowledge is king.