Q&A WITH MAT LEWIS
HEAD CHEF AT NOVA
Dunedin born and bred, Mat’s first inspiration to cook started with his Mum. Being the youngest of 3 boys he was lumped into the kitchen to cook with Mum while his older brothers would go off and do things that he was too little to do at the time. ‘I remember sitting by the fireplace watching the pizza dough rise and then watching as Dad loaded up his pizza with olives and anchovies so us boys wouldn’t eat his!’
Mat’s first job at 17 years of age was in a kitchen cooking up fish and chips in a local shop in Wanaka. ‘At the time I was wanting to become a ski-instructor so this job paved the way for me to do this.’
‘It was from here that I thought I should take cooking more seriously as this was what I had always wanted to do and off to Otago Polytec Campus in Cromwell I went’.
Mat then headed to Australia where he worked as a chef for 3 years enjoying the sun and the warmth of the Gold Coast.
Auckland was next on the horizon where Mat spent 7 years, 5 of which was working at the successful Molten Restaurant for international renowned chef, Michael Van De Elzen as his Head Chef. ‘It was here that I was nominated for Innovative Chef of the Year at the Lewisham Awards which was a real honor.’
Upon returning to Dunedin, Mat then turned to his next passion, fishing! Mat spent 5 years out on the South Pacific Ocean with his main catch being paddle crab, blue cod and crayfish. ‘Spending the last couple of years being Captain was definitely challenging but extremely rewarding.’
‘Having been a fisherman, cooking with fish would be one of my best meals to create and I am hoping to have a lot of dishes on our menu in the future’.
The Fraser Brothers, also longtime friends with Mat called on him to see if he would be interested in returning to the kitchen and running Nova as Head Chef and here we are!
Aside from running Nova, unlike many chef’s Mat does enjoy cooking at home for son Max who has just turned 1 and his partner Sheena who is also a chef. Max can certainly look forward to all of his meals being prepared by two chefs!