Originally from India, Isaac Chadda began his journey in hospitality by working as a kitchen apprentice, prepping Tandoori meat and bread. At age 18, he moved to Auckland to pursue a diploma in cooking.
Since then, he has worked as a chef for 13 years in various kitchens, ranging from kindergartens, catering companies, to luxury hotels like The Langham and Pullman.
He is now the head chef at Burgernaut Kitchen, tucked inside the Urbanaut Brewing Company in Kingsland.
Having recently just celebrated its first birthday, this new food joint prides itself on making delicious smash burgers that cater to a wide range of dietary needs. Using only the simplest of equipment, Chadda and his team specialise in the science of browning, or the Maillard reaction, to whip up mouthwatering burgers that are charred to perfection.
"We smash the patties to a temperature of 250 degrees Celcius and above, creating a chemical reaction between the meat's amino acids and sugars, giving Burgernaut patties a beautiful caramelised brown crust."
Alongside its regular menu, the restaurant also runs weekly specials that feature flavours from around the world, blending Chadda's expertise, culture and background.
"I love to express myself with the universal language of food."
For Chadda, his mum is his biggest role model and an inspiration for Burgernaut's simple approach to cooking.
"Even though she only used a small griddle and a few pots, she always delivered the best food in the world."
Burgernaut's famous ugly fries are cooked with a secret spice that Chadda made by tweaking his mum's homemade seasoning recipe.
He notes that the hospitality industry's current biggest obstacle is staff shortages and retaining talent. However, Chadda is thankful for his team of talented young chefs at Burgernaut who are committed to serving the best smashed burgers.
"They are the reason behind Burgernaut's success."
Chadda's advice to young aspiring chefs is to never give up on cooking.
"Don't be terrified to start back from zero. Just focus on learning new skills and always believe in yourself."