There’s a famous quote by Malcolm S. Forbes that says: “Food may be essential as fuel for the body, but good food is fuel for the soul”. A sentence that comes to mind when you chat with our superstar chef at Epsom Village, Nick Seaman. Nick has more than 40 years of experience as a chef, from fine dining restaurants to commercial catering, hotel work, boarding schools and of course retirement villages. He’s been working for the village more than one year now, preparing the Wednesday Menu: “I really like being a chef because when you feed people, you’re also nurturing them. At the same time, you get the feedback from them, so your work is an ongoing learning process”.
When he was young, Nick wanted to be a journalist but there were only two Journalism Schools in New Zealand, and it was very hard to get into them. Luckily for us he decided to divert his efforts into his second passion, food, a love he inherited from his grandmother who was a very good cook. Nick loves chatting to the residents when he comes to the village on Wednesday afternoon, and he likes the autonomy and creativity that are involved in his role at Epsom Village.
On Wednesdays normally Nick cooks a roast meal with lots of vegetables, and once a month he offers the residents a “Chef’s Choice” Menu. He really enjoys the challenge of thinking outside the box when the village hosts special events. This year’s Midwinter dinner had the theme “Travelling around the world with Epsom Village” and Nick came up with a delicious menu that delighted our residents.
One of Nick’s longest positions when he was working full-time was at the Quality Hotel in Anzac Avenue, where he worked as Duty Chef. He also enjoyed his time at fine-dining restaurant Bonaparte. Although he has fond memories of these two jobs, now he is very happy with the more intimate atmosphere he can find in a retirement village like Epsom. “I loved the adrenaline of working in a restaurant with an A la Carte Menu but after a few months it can get very tiring. At the same time, I really enjoyed my experience at Dilworth school but there I was doing bulk cooking as we were feeding 300 boys at a time!” Compared to these two previous roles, Epsom Village offers a more controlled and relaxed environment that gives him the opportunity to meet his diners and with time develop a relationship with them.
On average Nick feeds around 30-40 people every Wednesday, and a few more when the village hosts special events such as the Christmas party. Feeding lots of people is something he not only does for a living, but also as a passion. Before Covid, Nick hosted two or three big parties every year at his own house, a Christmas dinner, a midwinter dinner and a daylight savings party. He would have between 70 and 80 people at his house, between family, friends and neighbours!
What does he cook when he’s at home? “I like comfort food, lots of Italian meals… Last week I did steak, lasagne, and on Friday I cooked crumbled fish and wedges…! I always cook fish on Fridays… it comes with the territory, I guess!” he says with a big laugh.