William Mordido has achieved a lot in his short time as a culinary professional. In 2014, when he was just 22 years old, Mordido was named Restaurant Association NZ Chef of the Year and at the International Jeunes des Rotisseurs Competition he came home with a silver medal, the first Kiwi to do so in over 20 years. He’s worked at SkyCity and at Chiko’s Restaurant and Café in Henderson, but now his biggest claim to fame comes from his travelling pop-up restaurant, Buko.
The pop-up debuted in Melbourne in late 2017 to great success, before coming to Auckland last November.
“I find the pop-up format really gives young chefs and I the opportunity to branch out and see what’s out there,” Mordido said. “I find it very hard to say no to opportunities to work in different venues with other chefs not in my immediate circle, and Buko gives me a set of challenges being in a fixed restaurant just doesn’t.”
“I love the format because our pre-purchased tickets give us a lot of control over costs and wastage.”
Mordido began his career at The Great Catering Company and completed his training while working at SkyCity, before moving on to work at Chiko’s, and after brief stints at Vue De Monde, Ernst and Young, he launched Buko.
As a kid, Mordido was always curious about what his mum was cooking in the kitchen, and so as he grew he began to experiment with his cooking more and more, especially when he managed to get the kitchen to himself.
“I always knew this career path was one that had the potential to take places and that was a big driving force for choosing to become a chef.”
Mordido isn’t one to follow trends; he prefers making his own way and wants others to do the same. “To be perfectly honest, I really don’t like trends and I discourage chefs from following them. What I do encourage is chefs focusing on their own progression and paving their own paths, because at the end of the day you are always going to be your biggest competition. Trends come and go but being original or different never goes out of fashion.”
From a distance, he’s noticed chefs turn towards using fermentation and solid fuels for cooking, which he thinks is heavily influenced by popular overseas chefs, despite the fact the methods have been around for a long time.
The Fresh As the freeze-dried range is a product making its way onto Mordido’s menu at the moment, “because of its unique and iconic texture and intensified flavour. I’ve even had Fresh As custom freeze dry some jackfruit for a few of my menus which I absolutely loved.”
Another ingredient Mordido is making full use of at the moment is tea, in particular, that of Noble and Savage. “I love it because their blends are so aromatic, and the health aspect of drinking tea is a bonus.”
“I find pairing them with dishes is great because you feel refreshed and calm. It’s great seeing more and more establishments offering tea pairings.”
In his mind, the greatest thing he’s accomplished is buying and renovating his first home while juggling a full-time job and a side-business – not something many New Zealanders can say they’ve done.
While the future holds no certainties for him, Mordido is still aspirational and envisions more hard work and personal progress.
“Whatever opportunities come out of this will reflect how hard I have worked, so hopefully a few restaurants, a few more competitions, a published book, a cooking school and a charitable organisation.”