The bustling café tucked inside Huckleberry New Lynn is an excellent local spot to get well fed and caffeinated (or decaffeinated) – with our own fairtrade organic coffee blend – in the heart of West Auckland. Its seasonal menu is chock full of colourful, organic superfood-filled bowls, and delicious brunch and lunch classics for those with a healthy appetite. In a jungle inspired setting filled with plants. And at its helm, orchestrating and preparing those scrumptious goodies, is Chef Luke Naqiwala Ramasima.
Luke was born and raised in beautiful Fiji. With food playing such an important role from a young age, it was only natural that after high school, he proudly gained his chef’s qualification at the Fiji National University in Nadi. In 2016, a desire to further his culinary career brought him to New Zealand, and a new home in West Auckland, where he lives with his partner and plenty of house plants. (Although he’s also angling to add a dog to the whanau!)
We caught up with Chef Luke this week to discover his pantry ‘must haves’, his plans for the ultimate dinner party and his enduring love of broccoli.
What’s your earliest food memory?
My earliest food memories are from a very young age, growing up in a small village in the far North of Fiji. I would catch fish, help harvest fresh vegetables, pick fruit like mangoes and papaya from the trees, and my grandpa even planted a small pineapple farm in my name. I’ve always been surrounded by high quality fresh produce, which inspired my love of cooking.
Tell us about your first (kitchen related) job.
Although I cooked for my family from a young age, my first proper kitchen role was during my university placement, working at the Radisson Blu Resort in Port Denarau, Fiji. I learnt so much from such a large culinary operation with 5 star menus and numerous restaurants across the resort.
What are three indispensable ingredients in your kitchen?
It’s incredibly hard to narrow it down to only three ingredients. They aren’t necessarily my favourite but if we’re talking indispensable, I think I’d have to go with salt, lemon and coriander. So many dishes would be lost without salt and lemon. You can’t make anything delicious without flavour, it can make or break a meal. Coriander is a controversial one, you either love it or hate it. I love the distinct taste, it can really elevate a dish.
You’re hosting the ultimate dinner party. What’s on the table, and who’s on the chairs?
Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, Kelly Slater and Denzel Washington. Two of my favourite chefs, an idol of mine from the surfing world (my second passion) who I have actually been lucky enough to meet before and my favourite actor! I’d serve Kokoda (Fijian raw fish in coconut milk) for starter, a Luke twist on a surf and turf with top quality steak, lobster and prawns for the main course. And I’m not sure about dessert, as I’m not much of a sweet tooth. But once I experiment with ingredients, I could find something to tie off that menu nicely.
What’s in season right now that you’re really excited about?
Broccoli! Most people would think broccoli is one of the least exciting things around, but it’s so good for you. Not only is it loaded with fibre, antioxidants (like the amazing sulforaphane) and vitamin C, it also tastes great when you cook it properly! Seasoning is key, as is ensuring you don’t overcook it. It adds great texture, nutrition and colour to so many dishes.
Favourite dish on the menu?
My favourite dish on the current Huckleberry New Lynn Cafe menu has to be the mango glazed salmon. We worked hard to ensure the flavours are all well balanced and it is super tasty, as well as good for you. It also features broccoli! If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re missing out.
Huckleberry New Lynn with Refill Hub + Cafe
34D Portage Rd
New Lynn, Auckland
Ph: 09 826 5454
Cafe hours: Mon - Sun: 8:30am - 3pm