- Right so someone told me horses was your start in life, how did you jump to restaurants?
The horse community is very earthy, borderline feral, they tend to love animals, alcohol/drugs, and sex, not necessarily in that order. I was a natural fit but at the time I was getting fatter, the horses were getting slower carrying me, so I googled industries that are essentially made up of people who like living a life consumed by sex and alcohol, and it came up with hospo ( in between times I was a veterinarian and by an extraordinary coincidence most large animal vets have a penchant for sex and alcohol ).
That’s the journey in a nutshell.
- What’s your favourite thing about HQ?
Cooking over flame, I love the flavour of flame, although I haven’t yet realised my dream of cooking a left wing journalist who supports the Labour Party yet, not that I’d want to eat one of them, they’d taste the way they behave ( I was going to say they way they think, but they don’t..).
Even more I’d like to slow roast a food critic, not one of the good ones, they’re like the Yeti, no I’d pick a useless ignorant one like Jesse Mulligan, I’d hang him on a meat hook for a few days, in the sound proof chiller, then I’d slowly cook the bastard until I’d done to him what he does to every restaurateur he reviews incorrectly, and once he was well done I’d just dump him straight in the bin.
- What makes you really belly laugh, like loose your shit?
Mark Richardson, the nutters who believe in NZ First and Winston Peters, or anything written by Tom Sharpe.
- What’s something you would never compromise on and why?
My five kids, I went to a lot of trouble making them, it was bloody hard work, and now they need the best from their father, who as it happens is still a child himself and is now mentally younger than all five of them.
- Tell me what your day off looks like?
Days off ? WTF are they ?
I’m a slave to the system, I’m the trawler in the middle of the ocean with a trail of squawking seagulls behind me. If I stop the seagulls will land and shit all over me, and we don’t want that.
Thanks Leo, you are quite the funny guy, you should have a blog or column!!
- So, Italian huh? what secrets from the Mediterranean do you bring to HQ?
On this menu there are a lot of dishes from my northern Italian childhood that I really wanted to share. Pizza is obviously one of these and I think we’ve created one of the best pizzas in Auckland. The piadina is another classic. The only real ‘secret’ to Mediterranean food is simplicity and quality….well, and good olive oil!
- How do you get inspired to create a menu?
There are so many factors that are involved with creating a menu. One is the physical space of the restaurant and how you want the food to contribute to the overall experience. Headquarters’ ambiance inspired me in a big way. It is casual and very comfortable, but also right next to the viaduct so also very refreshing and bright. I try to make food that enhances those qualities. At HQ, I have made dishes that are familiar and accessible, but always to have an element to them that is surprising (example hanger steak, ants)
- The HQ solid fuel-fired hotline means what exactly to us lamen?
It means a lot of excellent smoky and rich flavors in our food. Better caramelization and less fat added ladies!!
- Is it true Chefs have a temper? Are you one chilli or the whole chilli patch?
I’d say I’m like wasabi. I definitely can let you know when I’m not happy, but it only last for a few seconds.
- Whats your best tip you can share for home cooks?
Always use fresh food. I’ll never be able to say it enough. NZ has amazing produce and there is absolutely no reason to use anything pre-made or artificial. Go to local produce shops, farmers market, or anything that will help you find fresh! Fresh carries the most flavour and will always serve you better, Buon appetito!
- Thanks Jack.
5 MINUTES OF INSIDE THE MIND OF OWNER LEO MOLLOY
5 MINUTESS PASSION WITH JACK CROSTI
Head Chef Jack Crosti