Meet the Chef: Jayson Daquiz Cruz, Monsoon

Jayson Daquiz Cruz is the 38-year old Head Chef of Monsoon Bar + Restaurant. Born in Peñaranda, Nueva Ecija, a province North of the Philippines known for its diverse agriculture, Cruz’s love for cooking started watching his mother preparing meals for the family.

Cruz worked several hospitality jobs in the Philippines and the Middle East, before moving to New Zealand in 2018. At Rainforest Retreat in Franz Josef, he worked as a housekeeper during the day and took some dishy shifts at Monsoon restaurant in the evenings. Cruz worked his way up from dishy to chef, eventually becoming Head Chef in 2020.

The chef describes his cooking style as plain and simple. 

“Making use of the simple ingredients available in the market, I take inspiration from life back in the Philippines.”

The best part of hospitality for Cruz is being able to put a smile on faces through the food that he serves, but challenges facing the industry can keep Monsoon from operating fully. The Covid-19 pandemic has created staffing shortages and the usual flow of tourists is scarce. But, Cruz is focused on serving the best food he can make from the simplest ingredients to the guests who do make it down to the West Coast. 

“Tourists come after long drives, or busy days of walking and activities, wanting a nice meal to end the day. The trust that management is giving me, it’s incomparable.” 

As borders reopen and tourism slowly gets back on its feet, Cruz hopes to bring his family to New Zealand. This will allow him to invest focus and energy into his long term goal of opening his own restaurant, if not here in New Zealand, then back in the Philippines.

“It’s my family encouragement, especially my wife, and the company’s support that keeps my NZ dream alive.”

“I have always believed that if you do what you love and love what you do, success will always follow.”