Head Chef of The Grille by Eichardt's Oliver Xie joined us this week to share his go-to recipes and the guilty pleasure he enjoys on his nights off.
Your favourite recipe you cook for yourself?
Braised lamb shoulder with slow cooked polenta and salsa verde. It’s specific but that’s only because I now have it down to a fine art. You just can’t beat South Island prime lamb so it’s best to show it the respect it deserves.
The one thing you always have in your fridge?
A block of good quality butter. It’s true what they say - butter really does make everything taste better!
If you could impart one piece of cooking knowledge to everyone, what would it be?
Don’t just follow the recipe when you’re preparing a dish (except for maybe when it comes to dessert). Recipes are created by people and are guided by taste. Potatoes grown in the summer are a lot sweeter than they are in winter so it’s important to taste everything as you go!
Can you recall the moment when you knew you wanted to pursue a career in food?
There was a day I watched as a head chef prepared grilled lobster. The way he showed his staff what to do made it clear he loved what he was doing and I was really inspired by his passion. It was that exact moment I said to myself this was the career path I wanted to follow.
What dish always reminds you of home?
I’m originally from China so that’s an easy one - Peking duck!
Your go-to dinner party meal?
Lots of junk food. There’s no better way to celebrate being amongst friends than with indulgences you wouldn’t usually put on the table for dinner.
Who is your food hero?
Marco Pierre White is a hero of mine. He’s had such a long and lauded career and is a source of constant inspiration – both in and outside the kitchen.
What music, if any, do you like to listen to while cooking?
Cooking is a job you have to focus on so you won’t find any music playing in my kitchen.
Biggest kitchen disaster?
After a particularly busy weekend we still had 200 dozen oysters left over in the kitchen walk in fridge. Needless to say, it taught me the meaning of ‘kitchen disaster’!
Your guilty pleasure?
As a head chef, I get Friday and Saturday off so I’m often indulging my guilty pleasure which is a stiff drink – anything with gin!
In all your travels, where have you experienced the best food (and what was it)?
The best food I’ve ever eaten was during a trip to Japan. Finding food is easy - restaurant or street food stall you’re guaranteed a meal that delights. The grilled tuna sticks out in my mind – a simple dish with fresh grated wasabi root for spice. The fish was cooked to absolute perfection and I’ve never forgotten it.
Is there one cookbook you go back to time and time again?
Modernist Cuisine is a favourite of mine. From the last 200 years to the next 50, I don’t think there is anything better!
The kitchen utensil you can't live without?
A kitchen spoon for tasting is the single most important utensil – you can’t finish any dish without it!
You're currently craving?
Soups and stews. I’m already thinking about the hearty winter warmers.
Any advice to new cooks?
If you want to be a great chef you have to work hard and take the time. Nothing good comes of rushing and you can’t expect to learn everything in a day.
The Grille by Eichardt's
9 Marine Parade
03 441 0444