Scott Buckler – No. 31 Restaurant

“Simple things done right is something I strongly believe in,” said Scott Buckler. “Keeping the flavour of the produce and not trying to disguise it with overpowering flavours.” Growing up in England as well as spending time travelling around, Buckler has worked in some amazing places and learned a thing or two about cooking.

Reminiscing, Buckler describes one of his favourite places to work where he worked in the south of Spain under English and Thai owners. “This created a combination of Spanish, English, and Thai influenced cuisine. The thing I enjoyed the most was just the freshness of the fish being caught and then cooked the same day revealing the freshest taste possible. Matching that with chorizo, you’re in heaven!”

Having spent only six years in New Zealand, Buckler has already worked in three restaurants—all in different locations. Alice May Restaurant in Franz Josef was his first head chef role, but he has also worked in Kaiteriteri and Christchurch. Currently, Buckler can be found at No. 31 Restaurant in Hanmer Springs.

Recently, Buckler has been experimenting with sous-vide cooking. “It has really helped the cooking process and also the quickness in service.” Buckler looks forward to being to try out new ways in which sous-vide can be utilised in order to make other delicious dishes. To guarantee the highest quality of cuisine, Buckler prefers to taste what is going out—”you’ll know if it’s up to scratch.” At No. 31 Restaurant, the biggest challenge is space. “We probably have the smallest kitchen in Hanmer, but what we put out is quite staggering.”

Recently, Buckler became a Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chef for his Merino Lamb Loin dish. He said that it is the most significant achievement of his career. Regarding the choices involved with his plate, he said, “I’ve just started using Merino Lamb from the Southern Alps; this breed isn’t used a lot. Merino Lamb roams freely throughout the Southern Alps grazing on wild herbs and native grasses. The free-range lifestyle creates lean, tender meat with a refined flavour.” When asked what his favourite dish was, he answered, “Beef Lasagne. It’s just perfect for me when you want some home comfort food.”

From humble beginnings, cooking with his mother and grandmother, Buckler has come a long way. “Every chef I have worked for and alongside—from my apprenticeship at 15 years old to now—these people I have to thank because I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for them.”