Mike Slaven has always had a passion for cooking, spending the school holidays learning from his mum and gran until landing his first kitchen hand job at age 15. Slaven loved the rush of being in a busy service, so he left school to study Cookery at AUT, then spent his 20s working and travelling throughout Australia, Fiji and the UK. After living it up in London, the chef came to Auckland and has been with Burger Burger since the beginning.
Slaven is all about simple food that is done right. As head chef, he uses traditional techniques to ensure everything served at Burger Burger has excellent flavour. He works with great suppliers to ensure the freshest seasonal food possible. The opportunity to run weekly specials and work on collaborations with other companies at Burger Burger has allowed the chef to be constantly creative.
“I want our food and environment to be welcoming to people from all walks of life.”
In recent times, staff shortages and supply chain issues have caused a bit of trouble for the chef. However, he considered himself fortunate to have a loyal team of hard-working young men and women who have kept all seven of Burger Burgers kitchens going. Then the supply chain issues have allowed for experimentation with new ingredients and alternative products.
For the future of hospitality, Slaven believes a challenge will be attracting young kiwis into the industry and highlighting that it can be a lifelong career. He hopes that with the recent wage increase, people will see how great of an industry it is to be part of and that they could take it anywhere in the world.
The chef's favourite part about the industry is meeting and working with others passionate about hospitality and food. Three staples in his fridge at home are Parmesan, Seasonal Vegetables and Double Smoked Bacon, plus a good olive oil in the cupboard. Slaven loves to slow-cook beef cheeks, lamb and pork shoulder, so there is often leftover pulled meat in the fridge too.
When not working, Slaven spends his time with his wife and young daughter, catching up with mates over a few lagers and fishing. Never missing a chance to be in the kitchen, he can also be found cooking for friends and family.
For someone just starting their Hospitality journey, the chef stressed the importance of getting into an environment that encourages learning and asking questions all day long. Anyone can have a successful career in the fast-paced industry with the right attitude and willpower.
Finally, Slaven shared some goals for the future:
“Keep learning, keep pushing to better myself and my team, keep enjoying what I do and keep people smiling through hospitality.”