Kyle Macaskill is the Head Chef at The Plettenberg, a member of The Liz McGrath Collection and Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Like him, I agree that knives should be expensive and last a lifetime.
Who has been the most influential person in your life?
I would have to say my mother, she has been the one person who has always pushed me to go further and believe in myself, and always cheered me on from the side lines allowing me to follow my passion throughout my career.
What started you on the path of cooking?
My mother – from an early age she has been my inspiration to get into pastry (where my passion for pastry drew my path to becoming a chef), with her artistic flair when it came to baking designer cakes for birthdays and weddings, often watching her in her master cake decorating classes and many a late night in the kitchen baking cakes. She always allowed me to experiment in the kitchen regardless of the outcomes.
Which three ingredients could you not live without?
The three ingredients I couldn’t live without …. As a chef there are many but for me, I would have to say olive oil, garlic and salt.
Which of your kitchen tools would you take with you anywhere and everywhere?
I would like to think it is the same with all chefs…. For me it is my knives, as they are an extension of our bodies when it comes to creating amazing food. Every chef in some way would relate to this. It is also our most fundamental skill as a chef, using knives. They are like our most prized possession, individually handpicked by a chef for weight, ergonomics and functionality. They should last a lifetime, as they don’t come cheap.
Do you have any pet peeves in the kitchen?
Yes, as a chef it is cleanliness. ‘Clean as you go’ is one of our fundamental rules in the kitchen, chaos breeds disaster and not to mention other creepy crawlies that we don’t need. Cleaning is a must, and it was ingrained into me by one of my mentors who taught me that ‘if you can’t clean, you can’t cook’. My other pet peeve is when things are not put back where they are supposed to be. Everything has a home and should be put back in its respective spot, so you know where to find it when you need it.
Which meal is your all-time favourite?
My all-time favourite is Spaghetti bolognaise, but that takes second place when it comes to a Lemon meringue pie!
Which restaurant would you visit over and over again?
A restaurant that I could visit over and over again… as I have just moved to Plettenberg bay, it is a little difficult to say yet, but I am a avid pizza lover, and so far, the best place is Souls (East Coast Soul Kitchen) on Main Road, Plettenberg bay. They do a mean pizza and are always friendly and inviting, not to mention making the second best Mussel Pot in Plettenberg bay (unfortunately for them, we do it better at The Plettenberg! 😊)
If you could only have one recipe book, which one would it be?
River Cottage A-Z by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
If you could work alongside one chef for a day who would that be?
Adriano Zumbo – an inspirational master pastry chef of my time. I would love to pick his brain!
Which ingredient will you not eat or cook with?
Foie gras – the ethics behind it are not to my taste. You will not find it in my kitchen.
What is on top of your bucket list?
My bucket list is not food orientated specifically, but my top bucket list item would be to go to Japan, not only for the cultural and food experience, but for their annual World bonsai festival/show and the opportunity to spend some time with a bonsai master. This is a hobby of mine and since moving to Plettenberg bay, where there is no bonsai kai / society network, it has become a dream of mine to start one.
What is your food philosophy?
My food philosophy is to execute the perfect marriage of flavours using local produce to create dishes that will entice the senses. From sight to smell to taste, creating a memorable experience for the diner, leaving them wanting to come back for more.
Any parting words for the readers?
You are never too old to stop learning, I try learning something new every day, and always face challenges head on. Experimenting is the only way we learn to grow.
About The Liz McGrath Collection
The Liz McGrath Collection in South Africa comprises The Cellars-Hohenort, The Marine, and The Plettenberg – three iconic hotels that are proud members of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Each of the three 5-star hotels boasts a unique location, mesmerising history, splendid design, and amenities and services that are second to none. The Collection features individually designed, sophisticated interiors, the most luxurious accommodations, award-winning gardens and world-class cuisine to exemplify authentic South African hospitality.
Thanks to Janie van der Spuy from FIVESTAR PR for facilitating this interview with Kyle Macaskill.