David Shofield - Chef of the Month

Meet Executive Chef David Schofield and get inspired by his focus, creativity and the constant search for improvement.


1. Your restaurant/business:

I’m currently running my consultancy company Star Anise and also working on details about a possible site, which hopefully can be announced soon. As a consultant and Executive Chef my days are as varied as they possibly can be. I can be doing a private event on a luxury yacht, I could be designing a menu or writing a recipe, I might be out negotiating with a supplier or on the hunt for a new one. I love variety and as I can’t sit still, being able to be out and about is really good for me.

2. Describe your kitchens:

Calm, controlled and focused. I love a well-organized kitchen where my staff can focus on their jobs without needing to worry about having the right gear and equipment to do the job. I also appreciate my chefs needing to be confortable in their uniforms, which is why I love Chef Works uniforms; Being comfortable in a hot and potentially stressful environment is really important.  If the staff are worried about how hot and uncomfortable they are, they are not focusing on the job at hand and that is not good for anyone – especially the customer.

3. Favourite Chef Works item and why:

Chefs Jackets. With not a single skip in a heart beat its gotta be the chefs jackets.
Wear a cheap old and stained jacket and you’ll look like a slob who doesn’t care about what you are doing. You end up with clients, staff and collegues wondering if they can trust you – will you actually practice what you purport to preach? They will question your work ethic and won’t take you seriously and think that you don’t take pride in your work. Wear a crisp, white tailored jacket and you look like you’re a real pro, that you know what you are doing and that you mean business.

4. First job:

I was 15 and had left high school, as school and I were not good friends. I’d been accepted as a KP at a new hotel that was opening in my home town of Wellington called the Plaza International.
I washed, scrubbed and cleaned for a grand total of a week until the chef asked me if I thought I could do a better job than what one of his chefs had been doing. Naturally I said yes and was sent home and told to report back at 10pm! Unbeknown to me I’d been promoted, there and then to night chef, and had started my culinary career cooking the night menu. 9 months later I was offered and apprenticeship and the rest they say, is history.

5. Your cookbook:

I’ve got thousands of recipes, but I’ve not compiled them into any sort of semblance of a book.  I’d love to get something published one day, but it’s not something that I’m actively pursuing right at this moment. Frankly, I have so much on my plate right now that finding time to coordinate a cookbook would be tricky, but hey, I never back down from a challenge.

6. Awards/Achievements:

    New Zealand Chef of the Year in 2011 and 2012

    Chaine Des Rotissuers, Concours du Meilleur Jeune Commis Rotisseur, Wellington final 1993, Gold Medal.

    Chaine Des Rotissuers, Concours du Meilleur Jeune Commis Rotisseur, New Zealand final 1993, Gold Medal.

    Chaine Des Rotissuers, Concours du Meilleur Jeune Commis Rotisseur, World final 1993. Silver Medal.

    Chaine Des Rotisseur, Concours du Meilleur Jeune Commis Rotisseur, Wellington final 1995, Gold Medal.

    Chaine Des Rotisseur, Concours du Meilleur Jeune Commis Rotisseur, Oceania final 1995, Gold Medal.

    Chaine Des Rotisseur, Concours du Meilleur Jeune Commis Rotisseur, World final 1995, Silver Medal.

    Prix Pierre Taittinger 2002, Great Britain Grand Final.

7. Your cooking inspiration:

I don’t really have one in particular to be honest; I’ve been really fortunate to work with some really amazing chefs and spend some time in amazing kitchens. I’ve such a low boredom level, my ideas and inspirations change form day-to-day and week-to-week. I sometimes look at old menus and recipes and have a little chuckle to myself and I say “what the hell was I thinking?” But I think food and cooking needs to constantly be moving forward and developing. It is great to grow and expand your repertoire.

8. Your speciality dish:

I’ve not gone one. Whenever I start working on some basic ideas my constant tinkering with the dish means that it just kept changing and evolving. Every time I cook a dish I’ve done before I can’t help but change add or improve it somehow.  I am too much of a perfectionist to be 100% happy with everything in a single dish. I always need to tweak.

9. Favourite dish to eat:

Anything so long as its well seasoned and made with love.

10. Wierdest thing you have ever eaten:

Whale! Was a chef’s event in the Nordic country and after eating it I felt so sick. I’ve never felt so guilty and horrified with myself for eating something. The menu wasn’t in English and after several hand signals from the locals, the penny dropped and I figured out what I had just eaten. I was HORRIFIED!

11. Favourite ice cream flavour:

Anything from Giapo on Queens Street, Auckland.

12. Favourite drink:

A good strong coffee in the morning – preferably delivered and consumed in bed.

13. Favourite wine:

Chateauneuf de Pape, I love my reds and in particular a French regional red.

14. Who would you most like to cook for:

My wife, but if I could invite anyone from history to join us, it would be Escoffier.

15. Who would you least like to cook for:

I’d really hate to cook for someone who just sees food as fuel…. They have to really love to eat and enjoy dining as a social and fun thing to do. People who see food only as fuel don’t appreciate the time or dedication that goes into creating good food.  And I don’t mean that in a snooty professional chef sort of way. A good home cook often puts the same passion and work into making dinner for their family every night.  One should never knock a good ‘home cook’.  I know a couple and I love having a meal from them.  As a Chef it is such a treat to eat a meal you haven’t cooked yourself. Even if it’s just beans on toast.

16. Favourite things to do outside of the kitchen:

Walking my dogs, being with my wife and family and spending time just day dreaming and tinkering with recipes.

17. Your latest project:

I’ve 2 projects on the simmer at the moment, but unfortunately both have confidentiality clauses, so details on those will have to wait.

18. Favourite city and why:

Lyon, it’s the home of my greatest idol Paul Bocuse and such an amazing foodie city.

19. Your greatest indulgence:

High quality Japanese knives, Just love them. I really should have a clear out but I find it so hard to get rid of any of my gear and or knives.

20. Your all time best culinary tip:

Always buy and use fresh and seasonal produce that’s ethically reared or grown - and no matter what, taste and season your food!  Oh and buy a pepper mill. There is not point buying a $400 Chef’s knife thinking it will help you create amazing dishes if you don’t have the pepper mill to season what you create!  It amazes me how many chefs both young and experienced don’t own a mill…it drives me crazy when I meet someone who has all the kit but no mill. OH and a note book for those culinary inspirations and ideas. I love moleskines, my wife teases me about how many half or quarter used notebook I have. Whenever I see one, I just want to buy it.

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