He left university to become a chef

Expat zone

He left university to become a chef

After spending three and a half years in South Korea, Martin Kindleysides found himself flying to Bengaluru. It didn’t take the executive chef at Sheraton long to fall in love with the exquisite spices and herbs of the country. Although the Australian primarily works with the classic French cuisine, he has now become an expert on pan-Asian dishes.

This was a year ago. Now, Martin has travelled to quaint locations in and around the City and has tried his hand at various Indian and fusion dishes. Talking about his arrival here, he says, “I had travelled a lot to South-East Asia but I had never been to South India. But my uncle, who also travels extensively, lives in Bhutan and suggested I visit India and taste the food.”

Born to an English father and Australian mother, Martin grew up on a dairy farm in a town just outside Canberra. It was his mother who introduced him (and his brother) to the culinary arts. “We led a simple life on the farm. We grew our own vegetables and slaughtered the animals ourselves. When my mum left the farm to go to university, she managed some restaurants in her free time. We’d (brother and me) see chefs working away, which sparked our interest in the hospitality industry. At the time, I was five years old.” Love for cooking runs in their family as his brother also became a chef. “When he left school, he became a chef and I followed in his footsteps,” he says.

But he didn’t always want to be a chef. “I started cooking when I was 16 and I knew it was hard work. Initially, I was given the job of washing pots and peeling vegetables, jobs that no one else wanted to do. When I turned 18, I wanted to go to the university for environmental science. But that didn’t work out too well as I missed the camaraderie and team environment of a kitchen. So I dropped out of the university and became a chef. I have never regretted that decision; I have met so many interesting people and it has given me the opportunity to travel.”

Although he grew up eating traditional English meals like lamb chops with mashed potatoes and peas, he is appreciative of the native Australian cuisine, which comprises of simple, yet tasty, meats.

“Some tribes believe in travelling with the seasons so they live a nomadic life. They never settle in one area. If there’s an abundance of something in one area, they move there, and when the season changes, they move to another area. So, their ingredients and preparation methods are simple. They cover a kangaroo with mud and roast it on a fire. Or they peel off the bark of the paperbark tree and wrap it around meats and put it on fire. This gives it a smoky taste.”

On his life back home, he elaborates, “It would take us an hour to go to school everyday. A bus would pick us and drop us back. I grew up in a small community where the closest neighbour was 10 to 15 minutes drive away.” He says he doesn’t have much free time, but when he does get some he uses it to go back home, to work on his garden, spend time with his pets (two dachshunds), read or cook.

When he was in South Korea, he met his wife, Saet Byul Yoan. “She was an intern at the hotel I was working for there,” he says, shyly. A man of few words, he adds, “Her mother has a restaurant in New Zealand so she’s with her.”

He finds Bengaluru similar to Australia. “Australia has such a multi-cultural society that you can get anything. We have a large Greek, Italian, Chinese and Indian community, so it’s a melting pot of sorts. That’s like India, Bengaluru especially, where there culinary scene is good. You can get anything and experience different meals.”

Having moved around a lot, from Canberra to Sydney, Northern Queensland, South Korea and more, he has gathered much experience.

“My heart will always lie with the French cuisine. When I finished my apprenticeship under my brother, I did a one-year apprenticeship with a Michelin-star chef in Canberra. He’s in one who trained me in classic French cuisine and helped me put a finesse on my cooking. Then I moved to Sydney, where I worked with a multi-cultural team and that really opened my eyes to different techniques.” Like this, he has gone from being a banquet sous chef to an executive sous chef. With a goal to travel, he says he still has a long way to go.

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