Getting to know internationally renowned chef Mike Van de Elzen

Michael Van de Elzen

Michael is a passionate foodie who New Zealanders have invited into their living rooms and kitchens through his many roles on television. Since the age of 14, Mike has worked in acclaimed restaurants in New Zealand and around the world. Mike and wife Belinda (Bee) have owned several restaurants in Auckland but are now focused on developing a cookery school where they live near Murawai.

Having two young daughters has made Michael and his Bee, very conscious about what Kiwi kids are eating. He has a real passion for ensuring New Zealand children are eating healthier food. His latest cookbook, Fast, is all about cooking healthy family meals and includes a section on children’s food.

Mike has written for New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, MiNDFOOD and House and Garden and has a regular spot on Newstalk ZB’s Sunday morning show with Andrew Dickens.

Available for:

  • Guest speaker
  • Catering private or corporate functions
  • Cooking demonstrations
  • Guest appearances
  • Endorsements where appropriate
  • Voiceovers
  • Television presenter

Here’s your chance to learn more about one of New Zealand’s favourite foodies:

What has been the highlight of your illustrious career so far and why?
Opening my own restaurant as a chef working alongside Bee and being able to look out the kitchen window at a packed, buzzing room of happy punters makes all that hard work worthwhile.

What were the five essential skills you needed when you lead a team of 150 chefs for the opening of the Tate Modern Art Gallery in London for 5,000 guests while working for Terrance Conrans “Bluebird”?
Patience, confidence, a master at Excel spreadsheets, leading the talented chefs beside me and that adrenalin that kicks in alongside the fear of failure!

You have lived and worked in London, Ireland, India and Africa where is your favourite home away from home and why?
When I lived overseas my only focus at that time was to be a better chef – I worked incredibly long hours. To be honest New Zealand is a stunningly great place to live and I’m still looking for my perfect place away from home – the farm is pretty good!

When and how did you discover your passion for food?
I think the true passion for food came whilst working in Ireland. I had come from monster kitchens in London to a small 22 room hotel in the middle of nowhere. So, for the first time we had that essential ingredient…time. Time coupled with great produce is a winning combination for a chef.

What are your tips and tricks for getting your daughters to eat healthy food?
Get them to try everything, even if they don’t like it at least they have experienced it.
Cook in front of them and involve them when you can, this gets them interested in just where their food comes from.
Change things out, don’t just do the same old dishes every day as they will get bored and make bad food choices.
Be a hard ass sometimes, if they don’t eat it for dinner they can eat it for breakfast!

Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why?
I tended to push myself the most so no one really influenced me a great deal. But if I was to name one person that would be a chef called John Torode, he was my head chef at Bluebird and still to this day is the most energising chef I have ever worked with.

What was the biggest career (or life) lesson you have learnt so far?
Happy wife happy life!

What’s one piece of advice you would give people wanting to join the food industry?
Do your homework and get a job in a good restaurant, then be a sponge and learn. Don’t chase the money! If that café across the road is offering you $10 more an hour don’t take it as all you will be doing for the rest of your life is poached eggs!

If you weren’t a chef what would you be doing and why?
I would either be an accountant as I love numbers or a builder because like being a chef, you are taking raw materials and with your hands and imagination turning them into something great.

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
If I come for dinner just give me a cheesecake and I’ll be a happy man!

The Good Taste Co

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYHUOsCYC08
The Good Taste Co

Good From Scratch