Passion led to cooking for New Zealand

Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Nicky Watt Cafe Gusto, Wanaka

Why and how did you become a chef?
To travel the world and cook in different countries. I did an apprenticeship in Hamilton and a certificate in professional cookery at Waikato Polytechnic, then did competition cooking for the New Zealand team which led me overseas to Singapore. From there I travelled the world.

Biggest professional challenge: Dealing with staff.

Favourite ingredient: Lots of fresh herbs.

Best cooking tip: Use fresh, good-quality ingredients and keep it simple.

What type of food do you love to eat?
Love Asian food and seafood.

Who cooks at home?
Me, who else?

Favourite meal: One that someone else has cooked for me.

Favourite kitchen gadget: Juicer.

How have people's tastes changed/latest food trends: I think that people are more open to trying new things, but in saying that there are so many people out there who are set in their ways and never try new things. There are a lot more dairy or gluten-intolerant people out there these days and people are much more careful about what they eat for health reasons.

Battle of the TV chefs, Gordon Ramsay versus Jamie Oliver: Gordon Ramsay.

Gusto chicken and haloumi salad

Gusto chicken and haloumi salad for two people
1 chicken breast sliced into strips
1 lemon
2 cloves garlic fresh thyme - bunch
canola oil
Israeli couscous ½ cup
8 sundried tomatoes
¼ cup fresh mint
½ onion red finely diced
3 tbs balsamic dressing
Haloumi - I recommend the Caanan brand from Auckland
mesclun lettuce mix

Marinate chicken in lemon, oil, chopped garlic and thyme for an hour. Meanwhile, cook the couscous in boiling water until al dente and drain.

Once cooled, mix with chopped mint, chopped sundried tomato, chopped onion and balsamic dressing. In a bowl, toss the lettuce mix with 1 tbs balsamic dressing.

Pan-fry the chicken. Once done, in a hot pan add a little oil and cook the haloumi for 1 minute each side.

Put the lettuce mix in each bowl, top with couscous then top with chicken and haloumi. Haloumi should be served immediately, once cooked.

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