Moroccan-born and Christchurch-based chef Simo Abbari has developed a range of marinades and zest, bringing his Mediterranean and North African heritage to New Zealand. Abbari spoke to the team about good food, new products and a passion for cuisine.

What is your company background, how did you start the business?

“After my upbringing in Morocco I trained in classical French cuisine, and then worked in kitchens across Europe and North Africa. I arrived in New Zealand in 1994 and eventually set up my own restaurant Simo’s in Cashel Mall.

After losing two kitchens, a cooking school, and a precious cook book that had been years in the making in the Christchurch earthquakes, I didn’t give up but set up a delicatessen and café called Mosaic by Simo in Addington.”

What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?

“Inspired by my Mediterranean heritage and using Hawke’s Bay orange and lemon peel, I created a range of four different Zest pastes. The original and zingy flavours are Orange and Lemon Zest, while the layered flavoured options are Lemon & Coriander, and Orange & Cinnamon.

Citrus zest pastes bring a medley of flavours and fragrances to your cooking and baking. Whether you want something sweet or savoury, a teaspoon of Zest means you can transform your meal.”

What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?

“New products are currently in development based on my Mediterranean heritage and will be launched when perfected. My philosophy is that good food made from a colourful medley of the freshest ingredients, with loving hands and hearty laughter brings soul to the table.”

Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? If so, where would you like to see the product situated?

“The Simo’s Zest range is available through Service Foods, packaged in convenient 550g and 1.1kg pouch packs.”