Meet The Chef: Mike Shatura, Ahi

Ahi has had a stellar year winning countless awards and recognition for their efforts. They were the winner of Best Metropolitan Restaurant 2021/2022, Best drinks list 2021/2022 and on top of all this, they also were awarded 2 Chefs Hats from Good Food Guide. An outstanding set of achievements despite the year they all had with Covid hardships, setbacks and major staff shortages. 

Executive Chef at Ahi, Mikhail (Mike) Shatura told us about his journey to becoming a Chef, Ahi’s special garden and the creative freedoms he expresses through cuisine and creating. 

Shatura was born and raised in Vladivostok, Russia. He always had an interest in cooking but after doing a degree from Auckland University, he worked for 2 weeks in an office space. Not long after, he found that the office environment didn’t quite suit him or his personality. “So, I decided to pursue a career in cooking. I’ve never looked back since.” 

He told us that he doesn’t really follow a specific style of cooking and that it switches up all the time. His favourite way to change things up is by taking one ingredient and exploring it and showcasing it through presentation and flavour combination. “I try to keep it dead simple. I let the product and nature inspire me,” Shatura said. 

Ahi is innovative in how they have invested in their own organic garden. This has completely changed the formula for building their dishes. Rather than, taking a piece of meat and trying to figure out what garnish or vegetable will go with it, they now look at their garden produce first and then try to match it with protein and see what meat or fish would go with it. 

“The garden inspires and drives our menu and dishes. Also, creating our own miso, garums, fermenting vegetables as well as our cheese and charcuterie programs.”

The ability to pursue creative freedom and the power of putting a smile on people’s faces through food is Shaturas’ favourite part of being a Chef. Looking to the future, he sees challenges for the hospitality industry with a lack of young chefs coming into the industry. “I’m looking for “hungry”, inspired and motivated young talent to share the knowledge with,” he revealed. He encourages young people who are interested in hospitality and tells them the journey is worth it. 

“Be prepared to work hard, self-educate along the way, research and always push yourself to be better. This is the way.”