This week we talk with Chef and adventurer Kayne Raymond. Chef Kayne commenced his passion with food very early on in his life and has travelled the world as a Private Chef. He has also appeared on the US TV network BBC America in an adventure cooking show called No Kitchen Required.
Kayne you developed an early passion for cooking from your Mother. What is a fun or special moment you shared with her when learning to cook as a child/teen?
I have quite a few good stories about food and growing up in the Raymond household.
I think I will share these two goodies…
My mum is a great cook! As a child I remember vividly my love for her pikelets. Most weekends started with warm pikelets, strawberry jam and whipped cream for breakfast.
I would constantly harass her to make pikelets at any opportunity! So one day after obviously having enough of me asking she told me to go ahead and make them myself.
I had the recipe and knew how it went as I’d watched her make them numerous times. I made the batter carefully adding everything and continued to cook the batch of pikelets.
They looked awesome. My brother and mum tucked into them and spat them out instantly. The recipe was completely correct except for the fact that that I had added salt instead of sugar to the recipe. I couldn’t help but burst into tears. Mum stepped in and remade the pikelets and all was good. I have never done that again!
Something we laugh a lot about these days also is how when I was a kid I would smell all my food! I still do whether Iʼm at home or a restaurant. I have always leant down and taken a good whiff! I would do it at the dinner table as a kid and it would drive my mum crazy! She would yell at me how that was terribly bad mannered and not to do it. There were a few occasions where there was a clip to the ear. 38 years down the track and I’m still smelling my food but she understands that it was those smells that drove me to follow my scent into a career as a chef. I haven’t been yelled at or had my ear clipped for a loooooooong time. Love you Mum!
When did you know you wanted to be a Chef professionally? At what age or particular moment in your life?
I started working in kitchens probably when I was 16 years old. Doing dishes and food preparation. I was the bloody fastest, most thorough dishwasher ever. I think I always pushed hard to be the best at whatever I did. I think that has something to do with being the middle child also. I remember working at a restaurant “Cin Cin” on quay in Auckland and I remember watching the chefs in awe. I felt that if I busted my ass doing the dishes and doing a good job with the food preparation they would notice me and give me a chance on the line. That didn’t happen but it really was that moment, at that restaurant that ultimately led me to want to be a chef.
You’re based in New Zealand and have travelled around the world working with many Chefs and have also worked as a Private Chef for the rich and famous. What would be one (or a few) tip/s you would give to those Chefs looking to work for wealthy clients on a one-on-one basis?
I think the most important tip I could give a chef wanting to get into a personal chef career is to be themselves, be personable and really make an effort to read and understand your client’s needs. Very Important!
Yes, you have to be a great chef but you also want the clients to feel comfortable and at ease around you. Your clients may have children, there are guests and friends that drop in etc. Its important that they trust you and feel safe. I treat my clients as I would treat anyone that was a close friend or family member. For me it has created great trust with my clients that gives them the freedom to be who they are around me. Its important not to pretend to be someone who you aren’t, to just please the client. I can’t express that enough, to just be yourself.
On another note I think a great tip is to broaden your repertoire of food. If you can cook Italian one night, Japanese the next, French, Indian etc it keeps the clients and yourself interested, excited and employed longer. Bonus!
Aside from excellent knowledge of food preparation, what are the soft skills that you think are needed for upcoming Chefs to have when looking to enter the Private/Personal Chef arena?
I think when entering the private chef arena you need to have a balance of several things. You need to know your profession well obviously, but private chef work is a lot more than just the food. You are sometimes working closely with wealthy high end clients from all nationalities and backgrounds who at times can be very demanding. I think you need to love food no 1 but also get on well with people, have strong social skills, honesty, integrity, patience and flexibility. This helps to navigate the demanding schedules that can occur not just from a “food” perspective but from a mental perspective. You have to be able to think on your feet and adjust at a moment’s notice.
What is one thing that you’ve learnt from your mentor/s that you still do to this very day?
My mentor always would say to me “life’s short, cook hard” I do this to this day and have never forgotten this!
It’s also a bad ass saying. Give it your best or go home.
Who in the industry is your favourite Chef or is there anyone in the industry you would like to cook with?
I don’t really have a favourite chef as such. There are so many chefs that are incredible in their styles and techniques that it’s impossible to choose. If I had to pick one I would feel I let down another. That being said, one of my most memorable meals was at a restaurant named “Sant Pau” many years ago in Spain. The chefs name is Carme Ruscalleda. It was one of those life long memories that I will cherish. From the train ride north of Spain along the coast (stopping outside the restaurant) to Carme cooking the most incredible dinner ever then coming out to our table and taking me for a tour of the kitchen, it just went on and on. It was awesome. Not many people I knew had known anything about her. She is a self taught Michelin star award chef, which at the time really inspired me to go there instead of El Bulli. She had the goods and it was one of my favourite food memories to date. I’m sure many people know who she is now.
What is the strangest/quirkiest request you’ve had from one of your Private clients?
Wow there has been many crazy things I have seen in the last 7 years of private chef work. Here is a G rated one for you.
One of the strangest or ridiculous things that happened was one Christmas when the client brought their 235 foot Mega Yacht to San Francisco and moored it down by the ferry building. I was to cook an elaborate dinner for 100 guests on the yacht.
I employed a team of chefs to assist me in preparing an enormous Christmas banquet, appetizers, midnight snack menu, etc. It turned out that all the food was for the clients and a couple of friends. I think 7 people showed up. My pastry chef was making bonbons and needed to run them to the freezer on another other level of the boat and had to have a security escort. It was a bloody waste of time, money and food. It was a total self indulgent waste of Christmas cheer.
What are 3 favourite places/dishes you love to prepare?
My three favourite places or dishes to eat are dim sum. I love soup dumpling, shumai, congee and make congee often. My favourite is Dungeness crab, pork and green onion.
Anything from New Zealand that has green lipped mussels in it. In particular I make a killer green lipped mussel fritter. It goes great with a little shaved beet, fennel and arugula salad.
I also think one of my favourite things to make is risotto! The fact that you have to “nurse” the risotto throughout the cooking process and stay with it from start to finish, from pan to plate I love. It a very versatile dish that lends to many types and styles. This is a dish I like to cook for friends.
I definitely cannot forget the Kiwi BBQ!!!!! I’m a GRILL-IN VILLAIN
If you could prepare a full course menu for anyone in the world, who would it be?
Probably the All Blacks rugby team (and I’d ask pro surfer Kelly Slater to turn up also)
If you don’t know who the All Blacks are you better act like ya know 🙂
Do you have plans that you can share with our readers about your future projects or aspirations?
Right now I’m heading to NYC for another TV show test and working hard on some adventure cooking television shows.
I have been working on a nutritional juice company for the last seven months and hope to get that off the ground early 2014. Hopefully that will pan out. If not I will just hang out with my beautiful family and keep living the dream surfing cooking and paying the bills.
Life’s short cook hard!!!
Do you have a simple recipe that you would be happy to share with our readers?
Polynesian Halibut Ceviche serves 6-8
- 1.5 lbs halibut diced in half-inch cubes
- 5 lemons juiced (enough to cover fish)
- 1 tin coconut milk
- ¼ c fine diced red onion
- ¼ c sliced green onion, green parts only
- 1 large celery stick finely diced (about half a cup)
- 2 plum tomatoes, quartered, de-seeded and diced
- 1 1/2 tsp salt + more to taste
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed ginger juice
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- ¼ c chopped cilantro
-Dice halibut and cover in lemon juice
-Marinade at least 5 hrs, no more than 10
-Add remaining ingredients and mix
NB: Do not use bottled lemon or ginger juice for this recipe.
To make ginger juice, simply grate fresh ginger (skin and all)
and squeeze juice through cheesecloth, paper towel or your
Many thanks Kayne for sharing your love of food and of your professional experiences as a Private Chef. For our readers who would like to follow Kayne’s activities, visite his website at: www.kayneraymond.com , follow him on Twitter @kayneRaymond and his Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/CHEF.KAYNE.RAYMOND Thanks Kayne and we look forward to seeing you do more adventurous cooking!