Meet the Chef: Chef Marty Kindleysides talks about his attention-grabbing culinary journey
After growing up in rural Australia, Marty Kindleysides completed a four-year cooking apprenticeship with his brother, who was also a chef. From there he worked in upscale restaurants in Sydney and moved to five-star hotels.
He had the opportunity to travel and do a guest chef gig in Kobe, Japan, where he realized that travel and discovery was what he wanted to pursue. He then worked in well-known resorts in Queensland, Australia and then moved to Western Australia.
Hungry for more travel and knowledge, Chef Marty took a job at a well-known five-star hotel in Seoul, Korea. He then worked for the same brand in Cebu, Philippines, and returned to Seoul, where he also consulted on an opening in Fukuoka, Japan, before moving to another five-star hotel in Gangnam, Seoul.
Marty is currently the Chef of Signature Restaurants at SkyCity Auckland, where he oversees nine branches
The talented chef also took on the role of Vice President of Les Toques Blanches, which includes networking, promoting industry standards and improving in-depth education, among other things.
Chef Marty spent more than three years in South Korea and then decided to move to Bangalore, India, as Chef at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, where he was responsible for four well-known restaurants (including one at the Bangalore World Trade Center), Banquet and Catering.
From there he was selected by the VP of Luxury Hotels (South Asia) as the first culinary director in the St. Regis Mumbai. From Mumbai, he moved to the position of Chef at Anantara Bophut Koh Samui, Thailand, where he managed culinary operations and played a key role in the opening of the Avani Resort Koh Samui.
Then New Zealand waved and Marty is currently the Chef of Signature Restaurants at SkyCity Auckland, where he oversees nine branches, including four restaurants that have won Cuisine Hats and other prestigious awards. I met Marty to discuss his cooking styles, inspirations and love for Asian food.
Marty describes his style of cooking as diverse with a traditional French start mixed with many Asian techniques and flavor profiles
How would you describe your cooking style and the philosophy behind it?
My cooking style is very diverse. I started the whole process in a very traditional French way, but working and living in North, South and Southeast Asia I learned a lot of new techniques and taste profiles. While tradition is something I still use today; I like adding certain items from different kitchens to make them my own. I still believe in not complicating a dish and letting fresh ingredients speak for themselves.
What inspired you to become a chef?
I grew up in rural Australia and had a close connection to the country and the food that grew there. It was always logical for me to find a place in the food industry. My mother and grandmother were very good cooks. I remember helping out in the kitchen to get fresh eggs in the morning. My mother worked in the hotel industry, so I always had the opportunity to look behind the scenes. I remember watching the hustle and bustle of kitchens and cooks climbing and pushing food out in a busy church service. I wanted to be part of that excitement and excitement.
You have been in the industry for a while. Would you have done something different the first time you started it?
I started at the tender age of 16 and completed a four-year cookery apprenticeship under the watchful eye of my brother. It wasn’t the easiest, I remember him telling me: “I have to be harder on you than the rest of the team because I don’t want to be seen that I favor you.” Boy, he wasn’t wrong.
I remember a few difficult days and a heated exchange with him, to the point where I wanted to leave the industry and decide to study something else. I made up my mind not to leave and never looked back. I’m glad I did because as a chef, I’ve taken myself to places I would never have imagined.
Marty’s mother and grandmother were great influences, while training with his brother was difficult at times
You’ve been cooking in some really intimidating kitchens. Was there anything you did to build your confidence and make sure you kept the drive going?
You realize early in your career in the hospitality industry that it is a very intense but also very rewarding environment. Cooking from the heart can be quite intimidating, especially when you receive negative feedback. I used to take feedback very personally, but learned to accept and accept it. You won’t always get everything right, it is better to accept mistakes, revise and improve than blindly storm ahead and think that you are perfect.
I also believe that having a different interest outside of work helps to bring things into line much better. I like to paint and find that art keeps me down and allows me to stay away from the hustle and bustle of work. It gives me time to reflect and relax.
Which dish are you most proud of and why?
I had the great opportunity to travel to Kobe, Japan in 2007 and do a guest chef appearance at a five star hotel. I had to prepare a 10 course VIP dinner. I managed to import some of the ingredients I grew up on, including Murray Cod and Yabbies (freshwater crustaceans). From this I created a dish that spoke from my heart and from my home. I grilled the cod over charcoal and made a shabby and fresh pea sauce. It was very well received by the Japanese guests and the ingredients had a story that I was proud to share and explain.
What are the most important considerations when creating your menu?
I like sourcing the best local ingredients whenever possible. Seasonality is a big deal to me and I like to use the freshest seasonal produce.
What’s your favorite dish at home?
After living and traveling in Asia for a long time, my diet at home consists of lots of rice. I like to comfort dishes from the places I’ve traveled; of these are curries and daal from India or Thai coconut curries. I love spicy food, so I like to make it hot! My wife and I share a lot of cooking chores and prepare dinner together. Saet Byul is from Korea, so we like to cook and also prepare a lot of Korean food.
Fish is Marty’s favorite cooking ingredient because it is a versatile ingredient and has the ability to prepare special dishes
What is your favorite cooking ingredient?
I really enjoy using fish when I’m cooking. There are so many types of fish and each one has a different texture, taste, or cooking point. There’s nothing quite like breaking down the freshest fish and turning it into something special.
What is your restaurant’s trademark?
I am currently overseeing signature restaurants in SkyCity, Auckland. I have nine branches in my portfolio that have a number of New Zealand celebrity chefs connected to them. We just opened The Grill restaurant after the New Zealand Covid-19 lockdown. I put a tuna tartare with fried shallots, white sesame seeds, pickled cucumber and crème fraiche on the menu.
How can restaurants, hotels and chefs convey the innovative sustainable plant-based food / grocery chain approach to others?
We have to be honest and believe in the story we are telling. There is no point in talking about change, cause and effect if we are just having a conversation. There needs to be real change in the menus where chefs believe in what they’re serving rather than just following a trend.
Have you ever worked with meat substitutes? If so, what are the advantages and disadvantages?
No, I haven’t worked with meat substitutes. I often wonder why there are replacements. I’d rather grill a portobello mushroom and smother it in garlic butter before trying to cook a processed vegetable that resembles the taste and texture of meat.
“Seasonality is a big deal to me and I like to use the freshest seasonal produce,” says Marty
Hiring and retaining talent is one of the biggest challenges in any industry, especially hospitality. How do you talk to your employees about career growth and advancement?
Great talent will always evolve and I think it is our responsibility to the hospitality industry to train them well and to make sure we have invested everything to enable them to succeed, grow. I have been very fortunate to have a lot of great mentors throughout my career. I try to emulate what I’ve been trained, coached and trained for. If you see a weakness in someone, identify them and work on them until it becomes a strength.
Some of the younger chefs who are coming through the ranks these days want to be in the top position in no time. You need to have the patience and determination to ensure your career is a long burn rather than a short one. There’s no point reaching the top of your career if you don’t have the business acumen or management skills to deal with it. I’ve seen the most talented chefs grow too fast, grow too fast, and then fail. as they do not have the necessary skills to deal with finances or how to deal with people below them
Marty’s recipe of Mogwa-cha (모과 차) (Korean quince tea)
Quince is a rich source of vitamin C and with the added benefits of New Zealand manuka honey, this is a great drink to help ward off the winter chill.
1 kg organic green or semi-ripe quinces (you can replace these with lemon, yuzu, Buddha’s hand or even green mango)
1 kg of manuka honey (you can replace it with any other ethical honey you can find or replace it with organic coconut sugar.)
80 grams thinly sliced organic ginger (optional)
1. Peel the quince, cut into thin slices and place in a large glass.
2. Add ginger and honey. Make sure all of the fruits are covered with the honey.
3. Soak before use and allow to sweat for two weeks at room temperature. The quince gave the honey an aromatic taste and a perfumed smell. Since the quince is sour, it has a nice balance between sweet and sour notes.
4. Boil water and add enough tea to sweeten the water (to taste), add some chopped quince.
5. Let it steep for two minutes and enjoy.