He's cooked for Hollywood royalty and now he's back exploring his home while filming a new wild food TV series.
Kiwi chef Wylie Dean has cooked for some of the biggest names in showbiz, including Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke and Ashley Judd.
And now, after more than 15 years of living and working overseas and rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, Wylie has returned home to New Zealand and is quickly gaining a bit of celebrity status himself.
The former host of The Foodstore Chefs is set to hit the road this week in TV One's new series Monteith's Wild Food Challenge, alongside fellow chef Mark Southon.
The eight-part series takes in an array of restaurants throughout regional New Zealand competing in the annual competition that sees chefs creating a dish using wild food sourced from within 100 kilometres of their restaurant.
Now in its 14th year, this is the first time cameras have gone behind the scenes to examine the inspiration behind some of the dishes, which will culminate in the finalists gathering for a cook off at the Foodstore, where one will be crowned this year's winner.
For Wylie, who returned to New Zealand a year ago when he landed his first hosting job with The Foodstore Chefs, it's a far cry from the months he spent in Los Angeles cooking up a storm for a bevy of celebrities.
"I looked the part in LA and no one ever questioned my credentials or abilities or anything. I just used to walking around looking like a rock and roll star and they basically treated me like one," he says.
"I look back on it now and I don't know how it all happened or why it all happened but I would go back to Los Angeles in a heartbeat. I loved it there."
Back home, Wylie says working on Monteith's Wild Food Challenge has given him the chance to take a good look around New Zealand – something he admits he hasn't seen a lot of since he's been living overseas for nearly half of his life.
"I'd only ever been to the South Island once before," says the 38-year-old who grew up in Ahipara, at the southernmost end of Ninety Mile Beach.
"It was great to get out and see the country. A lot of it was shot in places I'd never been to before."
As for the highlight when it came to the food, Wylie recalls a day when he and the crew were stranded in Greytown, unable to get over the Rimutaka's because of driving rain and a blizzard.
"The chef there knocked out this really simple hare stew with potatoes and roasted onions, which just kind of took you in and gave big kind of cuddle-type feeling. You couldn't get any better meal on such a miserable day, it was a dish that really resonated with me," he says.
While working in Australia Wylie cooked with plenty of wild food, including pheasant, partridge, hare, rabbit, ostrich and emu.
But there was one "wild" dish that took his tastebuds by surprise.
"I had never had wallaby before. It was definitely interesting, that's for sure."
Another surpise was how few competitors were using fish or seafood in their dishes.
"Whatever happened to going out and harvesting mussels off the rocks? I think we only came across two people who were cooking fish. I thought it was really poorly represented, coming from a little Pacific Island nation."
Wylie is now busying himself with his newly-opened restaurant, The Hard Luck Cafe, on Auckland's Karangahape Road. Whether he'll have any wild food on the menu remains to be seen.
Monteith's Wild Food Challenge, TV One, Thursday, 9.30pm
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