Josh Emett is a New Zealand born and raised chef. Co-founder of the ever-popular Rātā, Madam Woo and Hawker and Roll, Josh is known for his incredible flavour combinations as well as his take on classic recipes. His new menu at Auckland's Ostro is bold, flavoursome and on-trend. He has a love for music festivals, has a cookbook addiction and is an avid user of Instagram.
We were super excited to hear about your new menu at Ostro – can you tell us what is different and what prompted the changes?
The menu at Ostro has been constantly evolving over the past six years and while our guests like change they also want certain favourites such as the Smoked Kahawai Omelette or the Beef Wellington to remain on the menu. We wanted the new menu to showcase current food trends, but also reflect our guests’ desire for simplicity and bold flavours. We've done this with dishes that are comforting as well as a little challenging.
When can we expect to see the fabulous new menu available?
The new menu is available now!
We know that your latest cookbook The Recipe has been flying off the shelves, but apparently, there is even more in store – will you soon be making a return to the small screen? Tell us more.
The book has been really well received and has sold out across New Zealand. It will be back in stock in October – just in time for Christmas. I am currently filming a pilot for a TV show to accompany the book. We had so many great recipes, from some of the world’s best chefs, so we thought it made sense to bring them to life and hear more about these recipes from the chefs themselves. I have just returned from Europe, where I was in France to film with Ken Hom. Ken is well known in the UK for his TV appearances and has been teaching people to cook Chinese food for over 30 years. I’m hoping we can get the series commissioned as it's such a great way to learn to cook the dish from the expert, as well as see them in their kitchens.
As one of New Zealand’s most respected chefs you know your way around the kitchen, if you could impart one piece of cooking knowledge to everyone, what would it be?
I think being tidy and organised is a good starting point. Mastering a simple dish like cooking eggs is a good introduction – you need to be aware of heat, when to stir, avoid overworking and keeping an eye on them, so you know when to turn off the heat and can see when they're ready. These are the steps you need to follow when cooking anything.
We often get asked for advice on what to serve when entertaining, what is your go-to dinner party meal?
I don’t have a go-to as I often get inspired by a piece of meat or fish and build a meal around the produce. It’s all about what is in season. What I would say is prepare as much of the meal in advance and don’t try and cook an overly technical meal. As a host, you want everything to be easy – perhaps warming in the oven – then all you need to do is serve and enjoy time with your guests.
Who is your food hero?
There are many but Daniel Boulud displays the classic cuisine I love to eat. He is technical, creative and runs amazing restaurants around the world.
What music, if any, do you like to listen to while cooking?
I love to cook with music on and I have a really broad and eclectic music taste. What I listen to is dependent on what mood I am in. My kids love to make playlists so we often take it in turns. We love live music and have been to Coachella for the past three years. I took the kids to Austin City Limits last year. They have developed really good music taste and will choose from Kygo, Odesza, Khalid, Drax Project and Ed Sheeran. My cooking demos on my Instagram also have music playing in the background and I’m often asked to share my Spotify playlists. I need to get on to that...
Even the experts have the occasional epic failure, what is your biggest kitchen disaster?
True, it happens to the best of us. When I was working for Gordon Ramsay I had a fail with a Chocolate Fondant Dessert. I had a table of eight on a set menu and ended up having to cook about 32 fondants to get eight desserts as they kept collapsing. Each time I cooked a batch I was short one or two and had to redo the whole batch. Thankfully the guests didn’t notice.
Your guilty pleasure?
Yum Cha – it's our family’s favourite. We often go on a Sunday and it is really hard to know you're full when you see all the delights coming around on trolleys.
In all your travels, where have you experienced the best food?
I can’t pinpoint one place. I tend to travel to eat so always try to hunt out the best food. I love France – especially the quality in modest well-priced bistros. I have also spent a lot of time in Barcelona and I love Catalan food. I went to Madrid last year and loved the food there too. I fell in love with Malaysian food a long time ago and I love that Malaysian cuisine has influences from the Chinese, Indian and Malay. As far as cities go, eating out in New York has to be one of my favourites – you can eat any style of food and the service is almost always excellent.
Is there one cookbook you go back to time and time again?
My cookbook library at home takes up an entire wall in my office. Cookbooks are my weakness – I bought six books when I was in London a few weeks ago. A book I love is the Gjelina cookbook and I have been to the restaurant many times in LA as well. As far as family cooking goes, Helen has her favourites – Nigel Slater, Diana Henry and Anna Jones for vegetarian.
The kitchen utensil you can't live without?
This is tough! I would say a good medium-sized knife and a good microplane... just one is too hard.
Novices often feel overwhelmed with a lack of knowledge and confidence – I know lots of people have been following your cooking demos on Instagram where you are giving everyone a free masterclass – what a great resource. What made you do it and what advice do you have for new cooks?
My cooking demos on Instagram started by accident really – I often get asked what I eat at home and I think so many people imagine I eat gourmet restaurant-style meals every night. The truth is we all struggle with the question “what’s for dinner?” and are often pushed for time to get a meal on the table. One weekend, we decided going forward we would record the meals we thought people would like to eat and show the steps of how I make them. This has encouraged so many inexperienced cooks to give it a go. The interaction we get from people who have tried dishes and shared their versions of the dish has been so rewarding. I especially love to hear that I have helped people try new things, attempt something they wouldn’t normally try and perhaps some people are eating more fresh home-cooked meals as a result. My advice to those new to cooking is: cook what you love to eat and start simple. Get that right and then move on to something more technical.
Want to dine at Ostro and try out the new menu? Enter their competition to win one of two double passes, valued at $250 per person.
Find Josh on Instagram: @JOSHEMETT