Ever since the 2011 Rugby World Cup, everyone knows there’s a new kid in town. Ok, a new kid and a new place. And that place is Depot- Eatery and Oyster Bar, right across the road from the Sky Tower. But today isn’t about Depot, it’s about the head chef who’s worked with Al Brown right from the very start to open Depot – Wellingtonian turned Aucklander Kyle Street. So we decided we would get to know him a bit more, and thought you would want to get to know him too!
Since Depot won the 2012 Metro Restaurant of the Year with 3 other awards, has life at Depot been any different?
Not really, we were straight back into it! It’s been really busy and packed every night as usual. The only difference is there are more first time diners. It’s been great to introduce our style of food and dining to new eager & willing customers.
What’s the first thing you do when you walk into Depot?
I’m usually awoken around 6am, with calls from the fish mongers, I like to be kept up to date with what’s fresh and available, we print our menu daily so I can make changes pretty quickly. No day is the same at Depot – you live by the moment!
Where were you before Depot?
Have you always wanted to be a chef?
Yup! I started off as a kitchen hand when I was 18. I was quite academic as well but I wanted to do something that gave me creativity.
What’s it like to work with Al Brown? Is he in Depot a lot?
We go back and forth a lot with phone calls and emails- he’s up in Depot every other week. It’s amazing working with Al – he’s so positive and empowering. He really gave me the confidence and trust to look after the menu. We work on the menu together so a lot of the time he will make relationships with growers and producers and send me products, then I try to create a dish that showcases that in the best way.
It’s very multicultural here at Depot – we have a great team that works together so well. It’s about creating global Kiwi food – a lot of New Zealand products and kiwi ingenuity with a global view.
Chefs are a bit like celebrities these days – do you have plans to release your own cookbook/brand/open new restaurant?
Well never say never! At the moment it’s not my focus. I just love to cook good food and be acknowledged by my peers. (Laughs) If I were open a restaurant… it might be called “Street Food”.
Where do you get inspiration from your recipes?
Mainly from traveling (America & Europe) my varying food experiences there. My favourite places are probably Chicago and Turkey. Chicago, for its vibe and amazing food scene. Turkey, for such an eye opening experience with its unique culture.
Sometimes it’s as simple as tasting an ingredient that will set you off to create a dish. You can start off with a really simple ingredient like mushrooms and plan a dish around that amazing ingredient. It’s all about having really good growers and producers.
If you could work for any chef in the world who would it be?
Anthony Bourdain. I love his books, and love his honest view on food, I’m a big fan of street food also. I think he would be a lot of fun to work for.
What’s the best thing about working at Depot?
It has to be the hordes of people that wait so patiently outside. You can see it from the kitchen. We’re a No Reservations restaurant so we try to never turn patrons away when we are busy, if you are willing to wait we will work hard to make it worth your while. Every night we’re super busy but it’s so rewarding to see people leave fed, jolly & satisfied.
What’s something unusual we can find in your kitchen?
That’s a tricky one… I have half a dozen different types of Mexican chilli sauce. It goes hand in hand with my love of street food.
The most embarrassing thing you’ve done in the kitchen?
I remember this one time when I first started at Logan Brown. I had burnt a whole tray of aubergines, downstairs by myself, I hadn’t made such a big mistake before and I was so scared and anxious. I knew a local supplier down the road, so I ran down and bought some new aubergines with my own money and started making them from scratch again. I told my chef, and he couldnt believe I had paid with my own cash.
I think its really important to be upfront with mistakes so we have the chance to find a solution. It’s the philosophy we have in Depot’s kitchen too. We all burn stuff occasionally – it’s just about being straightforward and upfront, so the problem can be fixed and never leave the kitchen.
Lastly, you’ve become a bit of an icon with your cap, do you always wear hats?
Haha really an icon? I have a stack of them upstairs, they get covered in charcoal at Depot so I change them often. They keep the hair under control.
Kyle’s 3 tips for aspiring chefs:
– Have the right attitude. Being a team player is so vital in a busy kitchen.
– Be humble – learning will get you far.
– Taste, Taste, Taste!
So there you go! Got the chance to talk to Kyle Street and watch the pretty chefs cook while we snack. If you’re wondering what the food is like at Depot, watch this space! For you aspiring chefs, don’t forget – be humble, and taste, taste, taste! In the mean time, go Like Kyle’s Facebook page. And UltimateOmNoms Facebook Page if you haven’t already!
Oh, and you’ll find Kyle here:
86 Federal Street
Auckland, New Zealand 1010
09 363 7048