Shafeeq Ismail

How long have you been cooking for?

I have been cooking since the age of 10 and professionally for the past 7 years.

 What inspired you to become a chef?

I was a foodie since childhood and I used to closely watch the artistic skills of roadside vendors in the streets of India who made mouth watering kebabs, Rumali roti, different kinds of snacks and sweets and how it brought smiles to the faces of people eating them- including me. Good food makes everyone happy, hence why I chose this profession.

What is a local dish from your home town of Kerala, South India?

Fish curry and beef roast kerala style.

What are your favourite ingredients to cook with and why?

Eggs are one of my favourites because you can include it in the breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert menu. They can be blended in a variety of ways but skills are required to achieve the right taste and texture. Eggs need to be treated with lot of care and love to blend it the way you want them to be.

You cook an insanely good curry.....can you tell us your secret?!

Shhshhhh.. secrets are not meant to revealed.. Hahhaha.. I would say the only secret is to keep an eye on the consistency, colour and taste of ingredients added at every stage, right from onions being caramelised to the addition of tomato, spices and other ingredients. The best way to cook a delicious curry is having the patience to allow all the ingredients to melt into each other.

What is your favourite Kiwi meal?

Garlic chili cloudy bay clams and southland cheese roll.

What do you think of NZ food in general?

Fresh and pure source of raw ingredients that are used to bring out the real flavour of food. NZ is one of the few countries who focus on locally produced fruit and vegies as well as contributing to sustainability.

What is your advice for anyone out there who is thinking about becoming a chef?

My advice would be just to be yourself and do not try to be someone else. Your food should be a reflection of your personality and skills. There is no pleasure in this world as good as seeing the smile on the person’s face who is enjoying your food.



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