The Greek slang-term ‘Arazo’ means to chill-out with loved ones at the beach, coffee shop or bar. This is exactly the experience J.J. Holland creates with his new restaurant of the same name in Manly village.
“I hope Arazo becomes a part of the community where people come to kill time with family and friends, drink and have good food,” J.J. explains.
“My last business, The Lunchroom in Auckland’s CBD, had quite a corporate feel, and so it is nice to be somewhere that is more community focussed.”
J.J. describes Arazo’s Mediterranean menu as simple, tasty and made for sharing.
“The whole Mediterranean lifestyle appeals to me because it’s all about relaxing, being with loved ones and connecting through good food. We use free range, fair trade and high-quality ingredients to achieve this.”
Mediterranean meals and ingredients feature throughout the menu, including Italian cured meats, “legendary chorizo” and Greek-style platters.
One of J.J.’s personal highlights of the menu is the pulled pork.
“We confit a brined free-range pork shoulder in pork lard for six hours – it’s something you won’t find anywhere else.”
As a seasoned traveller, J.J. is no stranger to international cuisine and culture.
He has lived in Amsterdam and the United Kingdom, and has visited many countries in Europe, Asia, America and the Pacific.
He has been working in kitchens for 26 years, starting as a dishwasher in his uncle’s Cobb ‘n’ Co Express in Auckland central when he was 13.
After studying philosophy at Otago University, he decided to enrol in chef’s school in Wellington so he could easily work overseas.
“I still use that degree every day though, because I talk rubbish all of the time,” J.J. jokes.
“In all seriousness, it taught me how to think.”
Almost three decades later and J.J. remains as passionate as ever about the food industry.
“I like hospitality because it is one of the only jobs where you get to have a laugh and enjoy yourself while you work.
“It’s the perfect combination of two things I love: good food and a challenge.”