Marc Weir doesn’t tolerate bullying in his kitchen, nor does he tolerate cowboys. “Working in the kitchen its one of my biggest pleasures to taste something that one of our chefs has made and give them praise, or more guidance,” he told Restaurant & Café. “It’s a very clean and professional kitchen, which is something I’m proud of. In such a busy and stressful environment tempers and emotions can flare, but tomorrow is always another day.”

Being a chef was never part of the plan – Weir originally had aspirations to be a teacher, or even a headmaster. However, after only a year and a half at teacher’s college, he dropped out and ended up in the restaurant of esteemed food writer Lois Daish, where he stayed for around eight years, in the kitchen and as maître’d. After Daish sold up the opportunity arose for Weir to manage a café in Palmerston North. Again an ostensibly short role ended up lasting eight years, before Weir went into business with the owner and started Floriditas – the start of a 22-year working relationship. “Many of the customers I served in my early 20’s I am still serving at 47 at Loretta.”

Weir has been cooking from an early age. “It’s always been in my blood,” he said. “There is something about cooking delicious food that you can enjoy and other can enjoy that does it for me.” From making French toast for his parents at age eight to burning his wrists on the electric elements because he wasn’t quite tall enough, it has been a long-held passion. “I can’t imagine going to work every day and not doing something you love.”

Weir has never been a ‘pan head’. “While I love meat, it bores me to cook and prepare,” he explained. “So many chefs or home cooks base their meals around meat, whereas I more often than not base my meals around what produce I buy or grow in the garden that I can harvest.” Weir is a fan of produce and seasonality, keeping things simple and fresh – “I’m a purist. Seasonality, accessibility, affordability is key and will always be so.”

Currently Jerusalem artichoke and Hawkes Bay organic pumpkin are lighting up the Loretta kitchen, but Weir would love to make greater use of grains and pulses – something he says is lacking in New Zealand culinary culture. “Unfortunately New Zealand can’t get what is available in abundance overseas, but we’re getting there,” he said. “It’s been great to see some interesting grains and pulses while travelling. I hope more become available here.”

As to be expected of someone who had ambitions to be a headmaster, teaching his staff is one of his favourite parts of the job. “If I’m working in the kitchen its one or my biggest pleasures to taste something that one of our chefs has made and give them praise, or more guidance.” Weir sees it as a privilege to watch his staff learn and embrace what they are trying to collectively achieve. “It’s been great to be a mentor and build on that with friendship and success.”

In terms of future plans, the long awaited Loretta cookbook is on the cards. Weir isn’t sure when the project will start full swing, but he has already started the brief and compiling recipes. After that, he’s unsure. “I think Loretta will be the last restaurant for me, but who knows what will be around the corner.”