After decades of globetrotting and cooking for the likes of Bill Clinton and Will Smith, chef Dylan Clegg has chosen to make Raglan home – and the talented foodie has wasted no time discovering the best surf spots, or in bringing his own distinctive flavour to local hot spot ISO Café Bistro.
Having spent time in glamour spots like Bracu, Raetihi Lodge and Lochmara Lodge (New Zealand); as well as Australia, Greece and France, Dylan’s culinary credentials also include the Winter Olympics in Japan.
Having only recently settled in Raglan, he admits to already being invigorated by the local lifestyle and community.
“I’d been here for the surfing a few times and just fell in love with the place,” he says, “and I was looking for a total change in lifestyle from Auckland. I’ve had my fill of city living.
“The opportunity to work at ISO with such an exceptional group of people really sealed the deal for me – that and the opportunity to enjoy awesome surfing literally on my doorstep.”
Originally from Sydney, Dylan has also spent many years in Marlborough where his parents now live. His passion for food has seen him travel the world, despite ‘falling into’ the profession almost by accident.
“I was working as kitchenhand while I was at school, which gave me a good insight as to what goes in the kitchen and I loved the buzz of it. The opportunity for an apprenticeship came up and I grabbed it and it’s been something I’ve really enjoyed.
“It’s something I’ve always done well at and I’m fortunate that it has allowed me the opportunity to see the world. However, with a desire to see myself in a place where I want to settle, Raglan just ticks all the boxes.”
In his role of Head Chef at ISO, Dylan joins a team who share a similar passion – both for Raglan and the hospitality industry. From Diego Nicholson (from Argentina), a former lawyer who is now general manager and the ‘meet and greet face’ of ISO, to other team members; there is a genuine love and appreciation for small town Raglan as a place to live and play. All enjoy outdoor activities and providing high calibre hospitality service despite their varied backgrounds.
For Dylan, the role is ‘a dream come true’. His new ISO menu launched last week and has already attracted positive feedback from many locals and visitors.
“I love working with fresh seasonal produce, sourcing as much of it locally as we can,” he says. “I like to live a healthy lifestyle and try to reflect that in the menu also – keeping things clean and simple, but obviously full of flavour.”
Calm and quiet in the kitchen, Dylan prefers to let his food make a statement.
The modern European menu offers up delights like crayfish ravioli, paprika roasted cauliflower, slow cooked beef short ribs and wild mushroom risotto; catering well for gluten free, dairy free and vegan diners also.
Headed up by owner Matt Taggart, a former world champion masters hydrofoil athlete, ISO is a result of his long held dream to create a memorable place for people to eat, drink and hang out.
A huge amount of thought has gone into the overall design; which includes a separate outdoor area and fire, comfy seating with power points for laptops, space for corporate meetings, friends to spend time and a commitment to support local artists and musicians.
“I think there’s definite pride in being part of this really special team,” says Matt. “There’s a shared desire to create something special and the addition of Dylan and the new menu is really exciting for Raglan.”
ISO is open Thursday to Tuesday from 9am-11pm. Regular happenings include Sunday Roast (Sunday 3pm-9pm), Bubs & You (Tuesday 9am-12); as well as community fundraising events and supporting The Karioi Project, the Raglan fire brigade, Billy Stairmand (Tokyo Olympic surfer), Raglan Community House and Raglan Karioi Trail Run.
You can check out ISO Cafe Bistro’s new menu on the ISO website.