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Interview: Lava Dining exec chef Scott Brown

Kitchen nightmares, final meals and inspirational grandparents… it’s time for another interview with a top Auckland chef.

This time we speak to Scott Brown, the executive chef at Lava Dining at the Sofitel luxury hotel in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour. He discusses his cooking background, his favourite celebrity chef and the perfect last meal.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Scott – when did you first discover you had a flair for cooking and what made you pursue it as a career?

I’m a Kiwi boy, born in Hutt Valley, who grew up ‘cooking with my nana’. When I left high school I knew I wanted to cook and decided to join the army as an apprentice chef. During the third year of my apprenticeship I discovered I was actually quite good and landed some work experience at Peter Thornley’s ‘Thornleys’. At the end of the apprenticeship Peter gave me my first break and offered me a job- the rest is history!

How did you come to be executive chef at Lava – I understand you were formerly a chef at Huka Lodge?

It was really a case of being in the right place at the right time. I had been at Huka Lodge for a few years as executive sous chef and was looking for the next step. Having previously worked at the Langham I had always planned to move back to Auckland for the right job.

You designed Lava’s menu yourself. Are these the kinds of dishes you like to dine on?

Of course! But I don’t like to fine dine all the time, I like to have a good relaxed barbeque too. My menus are designed around the best of the season’s produce and incorporate influences from places that I’ve travelled to and people I’ve met along the way.

What five ingredients would you not be able to live without?

Seafood, sea salt, butter, chilli and extra virgin olive oil.

We all know how stressful being a chef in a top Auckland restaurant must be. Can you tell us about any kitchen disasters you might have experienced while on the job?

When working as a demi chef I was pushing a jack stack of 80 plates out of the fridge before service and I knocked the whole stack over – that was pretty bad.

Who or what inspires you in the kitchen?

My grandparents, head chefs who I’ve worked with in the past and the beautiful produce that New Zealand has to offer.

Who’s your favourite TV chef?

Marco Pierre White.

Morbid question, this – what would be your idea of the perfect last meal?

Some beautiful suckling pig off the barbeque, green papaya salad and some cold beer at the beach with friends and family – nice and relaxed.

Lava is well-known for hosting elaborate degustation dinners. Is that the ultimate way to dine?

A degustation is a great way to experience the pairing of a wine-maker’s wines and a chef’s dishes because both get to showcase their different flavours and techniques.

What are some emerging food trends that you’re noticing?

A more casual style of eatery and approach to dining- share style plates and platters.

What’s the best piece of advice you would give an aspiring chef?

Ask lots of questions.

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Comments (4 comments)

  • CarolynHaslam

    We visited the site of Lava when it was a restaurant previously as part of the Westin hotel. We were saddened to hear that this great venue was no longer a restaurant so it is good news that such a well known and innovative chef has once again resurrected this venue. We will certainly be down to try it out soon.

    3:32PM, 24th Jan 2013

  • maryjane10

    I cant wait for this Valentine day ;-)

    3:28PM, 26th Jan 2013

  • gem1980

    Hi there.......have just been trying to enter the valentines day competition but my email keeps bouncing back to me saying that either the email address is wrong or that Simon Peterson no longer works there??....please tell me this wasn't some silly gimmick to make us read an interview??!!!!! :)

    11:23AM, 28th Jan 2013

  • Menusnz

    Hi there, it might be that you've slightly misspelled my surname. It's "Petersen" with an "e". Let us know if that still doesn't work.

    9:22AM, 29th Jan 2013

    Reply to gem1980's comment post @ 11:23AM, 28th Jan 2013
    "Hi there.......have just been trying to enter the valentines day competition but my email keeps bouncing back to me saying that either the email address is wrong or that Simon Peterson no longer works there??....please tell me this wasn't some silly gimmick to make us read an interview??!!!!! :)"
wisez.co.nz
    A
  1. Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour, 21 Viaduct Harbour Avenue, The Viaduct, Auckland Central, Auckland




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