founder & creative director
“good chefs, like artists, are visionaries. you have a vision of your masterpiece; you hold it in your mind and make it materialise.”
omid’s earliest memories revolve around the kitchen and garden of his grandmother’s house in northern tehran. during the turbulent years of the iranian revolution of 1979 and the subsequent war with iraq, his family were forced to flee, first to turkey, then malaysia and ultimately, to new zealand as political refugees.
at the age of 17, omid left school and began working in auckland restaurants; this led to being mentored by some inspirational teachers including Richard Ransfield.
‘’in many ways new zealand only got interesting for me when i walked into Richard Ransfield’s kitchen. his kitchen saved my life. he sort of took me under his wing and showed me what western food could be, because up to that point nothing was better than my mother’s food. until then, our family never ate out in new zealand, not because we were patriotic, but because nothing tasted as good or had the depth of flavour of my mother’s cooking’’.
of all omid’s experiences with food and cooking in restaurants in different parts of the world, it was his experiences in two very unique, and very famous, british restaurants that gave him the confidence to call himself a chef. first up was a stint at Ruth Watson’s exclusive restaurant in The Crown & Castle Hotel in orford. here, his knowledge of food presentation and the techniques of modern fusion cooking was elevated to a whole new level. the word “fresh” also took on a whole new meaning for him after discovering the lengths Watson’s kitchen went to in sourcing fresh, high-end produce. Ruth Watson, who is herself something of a legend in culinary circles in Britain, describes omid as “ a young man with an exquisite palate.”
his second “life changing” experience was a stint at the fabled River Café in London, founded by Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, who died in 2010. again, the emphasis that the River Café placed on quality of ingredients was so profound that once he left it, he discovered no other restaurant could live up to its exacting standards. omid no longer wanted work in restaurants that didn’t afford fresh produce the same degree of reverence, and gave up cooking until he discovered raw food in 2007.
omid started botanical cuisine in 2010, encompassing alternative dining space ‘nettle’ and the artistry & excellence “botanical cuisine academy”. believing there are as yet unexplored opportunities to create new and interesting dishes from plant foods, botanical cuisine’s philosophy focuses on all things artisan and heirloom: ”flavour and texture is central, with an emphasis on seasonal, organic produce it is a new raw food philosophy, based on the idea that raw food cuisine should ideally be created using lovingly grown, minimally processed and exquisitely presented ingredients’’.
while there is a place for creating ‘copies’ of cooked food favorites, omid believes there is so much more to raw cuisine and hopes botanical cuisine can help people explore the boundaries.