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No Half Measures by Simon Gault


Simon Gault is a personality in New Zealand and a real character of a bloke. He has a warmness and a sense of humour that sets him apart from the internationally recognised V chefs of the world. He is our pioneering spirit with so many of the competitive cooking shows and brought about a shift in the era of reality television.


But his story is not all roses and television celebrity. His autobiographical account, No Half Measures, gives an insight into the man behind the beautiful dishes and celebrated restaurants around Auckland and the country. Devoted dad, caring employer, and quiet battler of diabetes, Simon Gault opens himself up to the reader and explores some of the heartaches and triumphs that have shaped him into the figure he is today.


A product of private schooling, Simon broke the mould for the school honour system. As a product of the same institution, I can comment on the importance of this moment. Honours ties are given to old collegians of Kings College who achieve greatness in their chosen profession. Typically this celebrated ‘professionals’ like lawyers, judges, politicians, All Blacks and the like. When Gault was given one in 1992, it showed students that there is more to the world than politics, sport and money, and it was about time.


As one would expect from someone like Simon Gault, he punctuates the book with recipes from his personal collection. All of them reflect his signature style of fresh, quality products cooked simply and allowing the natural flavour to come through as effectively as possible. He manages to give even the humblest home cook a sense of success through these recipes.


The trials and tribulations that Gault explores throughout his story (written alongside the wonderfully talented food writer Kim Knight) give depth to the somewhat two-dimensional character that we see as audience members of the TV shows or to the restaurateur that we experience on a special night out. His life has not always been simple and elegant. Rather, it is the challenges with money, with pressure and with his own illness that have created a man that is strong, creative, and so well-loved by so many.


As he notes on a few occasions along the way, the secret to his success is ‘never just about the food’ - although that is a major contributing factor. Instead, it is the overall atmosphere of the restaurant, the quality of the staffing, and a whole myriad of business aspects that are taken for granted if not in the ‘game’.


Gault’s story is not a rags-to-riches story but a bumpy old ride for the much-loved chef. He was given opportunities and he took them and used them to better both himself, and the industry as a whole in New Zealand.


He really is a pioneer of the craft, and his adoration is well deserved. The man is a living legend of the discipline and his story is funny, fascinating, and a tremendously rewarding read.


Reviewer: Chris Reed

Bateman Books

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