Sustainable conversations: Taste the goodness
The movie Jiro dreams of Sushi is our bible at Coco’s. It is a film about simplicity, care, beauty, understanding, patience, watchfulness, time and repetition. It is the perfect guide if you want to be great at your chosen craft. Whether you are a rubbish collector, a waiter, or a lawyer, the film makes you want to be the most awesome you can be at it.
Coco’s head chef Guilherme (Will) has watched this film many times and it shows in everything he does. His food is one thing to rave about but he actually treats every meal, job, experience and person in and out of Cocos with same respect and care. Will was a junior when he first joined Coco’s family and is now the most talented and approachable head chef we have ever known.
He helped make the vision of having free range pork, chicken and eggs and sustainable seafood on our daily menu a reality. He has also helped contribute to some of Coco’s personal goals — like switching our cleaning products to environmentally friendly ones and contributing to our local community through food donations every week.
He treats his team with respect, understands their strengths and weaknesses and believes in leading by example (he is usually the first one in the kitchen and the last to leave). Will lives and breathes these philosophies and you can taste all of that goodness in his food.
Hi Willy what is your heritage?
Born and raised in the south of Brazil. Brought up in an old fashioned Christian European-rooted family. Lots of uncles and cousins, a lot of music and lot of good food cooked by the best cooks in the world, my grandmothers. Very strong Italian and Spanish roots from both sides of the family which have definitely influenced what I like to cook and eat today.
How did you get into cooking?
Busy mum and dad. Very hungry chubby boy. I have been in love with great food ever since I can remember. Started my kitchen career at 16 as a kitchen hand and worked my way up with a lot of hard work and great chefs who taught me all I know today.
What do you love about Coco’s?
Ethos. It is run the way I want to run my own business one day. Giving out help and support to all surrounding them, especially staff, and only asking in return that people give their best and love what they do at work and in life.
What do you dislike about Coco’s?
My kitchen is too small.
What is your favourite cooking utensil or tool and can you draw it?
My fish slice or fish flipper (below), don`t really know how you call it. But it`s handy.
Got a favourite dish you like cooking at work or home?
Barbecue. Not only because I`m South American but there is something magical about the smell of the charcoal, the noise that the meat makes as it sits on a hot grill and those little bits of smoky caramelised meat that makes me smile. And also that home-like feel of sharing big pieces of meat and bowls of potato salad with your family.
Best food you’ve ever eaten?
A little cantina called Malacarne run by husband and wife and two kids at this little city called Chapeco in Brazil. The chef in the kitchen cooks the best Italian foods that I ever tasted and that`s no offence to my grandma`s potato gnocchi — which is also right up there.
Italian Grill. Mario Batali.
Any secret or not-so-secret kitchen tricks or tips for people at home?
Don’t be afraid of seasoning.
What do you cook your wife to make her day?
Handmade chicken tortellini in chicken brodo (broth). Little truffle oil, grated parmesan and good old sourdough bread.
What are your desert island foods?
Tomatoes and olives.
Renee and Damaris Coulter own Coco’s Cantina on K Road. cocoscantina.co.nz