AT HOME WITH... Rebecca Smidt
AS TOLD TO: KYLIE KLEIN NIXON PHOTOS: ABIGAIL DOUGHERTY/STUFF
Rebecca Smidt and Dariush Lolaiy own and run Cazador restaurant and delicatessen on Dominion Rd in Mt Eden, Auckland. One of New Zealand’s longest-running restaurants, Cazador was opened by Lolaiy’s father in the 1980s, with a focus on local and sustainable produce long before it was fashionable.
REBECCA: It’s a much-loved restaurant; it’s been around a long time and won just about every award there is. I guess that’s because it’s consistent and classic, but always keeping up. We keep nudging it along with the times.
It’s been Dariush and me for the past 10 years. Our main interest is in making sure our menu is sustainably sourced and that’s an ethos started by Dariush’s dad, who only served game meat through the 90s. We still serve game and wild meat, but we also serve rare, sustainably farmed varieties as well, such as kurobuta pork.
Our whole approach to cookery is to create as little waste as possible – that applies to the meat and of the seasonal produce we use. That’s obviously very trendy right now, but it’s what Dariush’s dad has always done, being a hunter himself.
We’ve got young children so I am home a bit more now, so we do a bit of cooking at home, as much as we can, but I would say the kitchen is not as well-used as we might like.
The coffee machine is what anchors the kitchen. When you’ve got young kids and late nights at work the espresso machine is a fundamental appliance to us. It definitely gets the most use out of anything in our kitchen and I love having it.
It has become quite a ritual to just get up and make a nice cup of coffee.
It’s not a place that I could make a shortcut. I’d happily have a slightly cheaper kitchen blender, which I might use twice a year, but the coffee machine is used every day, so it’s got to be good. A quality European or American made and designed machine will give you 20 years. Ours is an ECM machine.
Unfortunately, you can't have a good coffee machine and an average grinder: ours is a Mahlkönig.
We use Eightthirty organic espresso beans. That’s what we use at the restaurant, and I stick with at home.
We bought our house in 2020, just before our second daughter was born. It was in a shocking state, totally rundown – I nearly went through the floors when I was quite heavily pregnant – so before we moved in we did a complete renovation on everything.
It’s nice having a new kitchen – it’s easier to keep clean and tidy, I think, when it’s new.
We bought in between the lockdowns. We didn’t get it in the first round. Then in March, the agent gave us a call and said “hey, look, it’s coming back on the market”. We put an offer and by then the owner lived out of town. I think they just wanted rid of it. That worked out really well for us.
It’s a very small foot print, I think it’s 90m². It’s a 70s duplex – just a little townhouse, really – and it’s just right for us. What really drew us to it was that 70s style with a lovely high-pitched ceiling. It makes it feel more spacious than it is.
I wouldn’t say our home is minimalist. I like colour and the bits and pieces that we’ve picked up from our travels, things that have been given to us by family. I have a “have it all out” approach.
TIROHANGA / PERSPECTIVES