Chef Kayla-Ann Osborn heads up celebrated Durban restaurant The Chef’s Table. She’s young, dynamic and uber-talented – a fact borne out by her position as one of 10 regional finalists for Africa and the Middle East in the S. Pellegrino Young Chef competition. We chatted to her about food and fun.
Your food icon: Other than my gran, who inspired my career in food, Clare Smyth. I spent two weeks working with her in London in May and it was incredibly exciting and enlightening. Locally, Gregory Czarnecki, Chantel Dartnall and Ivor Jones. They are all doing such different, but equally interesting, things.
If money was no object, what would your dream kitchen item be: A Pacojet, hands down. It micro-purees deep-frozen foods into ultra-fine textures (such as mousses, sauces and sorbets) without thawing. Other than that, though, I find that simple, tried-and-tested kitchen appliances work best.
Your favourite dish to cook: Spaghetti bolognaise and the seafood dishes I grew up on. There’s nothing better than fish straight out of the ocean or a fresh crayfish.
Your drink of choice: I love a heavy red – a bordeaux or a burgundy, as well as a whiskey so peaty it’s like chewing on charcoal.
Best thing about your job: The connection that food brings - with staff, suppliers, patrons. You’re able to build relationships and I really value that.
Do you collect anything: Teacups. It started with one I found at Rosehurst in Pietermaritzburg and now I have more than 90 of them that I’ve bought myself or been given as gifts. They’re stored on shelves and in boxes and kists.
Best way to unwind: Running on the beach with my dogs and a good yoga session.
Your dream dinner party guests and what you would serve: My family, along with Adam and Carin Robinson of The Glenwood Bakery. You can’t beat roast pork, roast potatoes and baked cheesecake.
Your pantry staples at home: Butter, wine, bacon and eggs. And dog biscuits, of course!
Must-have recipe book for the home cook: Erica Platter and Clinton Friedman’s Durban Curry – Up 2 Date. My recipe for Natal langoustines with a spicy sauce and fried curry leaves is included among some fabulous others.
Your top travel destination for:
1. Culinary experiences: London
2. Inspiration: London
3. Relaxation: San Sebastián, Spain, or Transkei
What are you reading at the moment? In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté. It’s about addiction in all its forms and is truly illuminating.
What’s the next big food trend? Vegan has come and stayed and now I think we’ll see ethical eating with a focus on endemic eating – choosing food that is locally grown and whole with less fluff and fancy stuff. I think insects are coming, too.
The indulgence you would never forgo: Pizza.
Durban restaurants you’d recommend to family: The Glenwood Bakery, Parc and Sofra Istanbul in Florida Road. They are all doing interesting, authentic food that’s delicious. For fine dining, Summerhill Estate and 9th Avenue Waterside - their new venue is absolutely beautiful and so good for Durban!
What does food mean to you? It’s a universal language. There’s no one you can’t communicate with via a plate of food. It’s family and good times.