We chat to Chef Proprietor at La Colombe, Scot Kirton
Scot Kirton is a force. Having started working in a commercial kitchen with no prior training he managed to work his way through the ranks in just 4 short years to become sous chef, which is no mean feat.
He is currently Chef Proprietor of one of the country’s most successful restaurants – the internationally recognised La Colombe. He is also chef-proprietor of the recently opened La Petite Colombe in Franschhoek. Husband and father to a newborn are his other titles and this born and bred Capetonian juggles these as well as running a highly successful restaurant with apparent calmness and coolness.
We find out a bit more about what makes Chef Scot Kirton tick.
The fact that you started working in a kitchen without having been through culinary school and now run one of the most successful restaurants in the country is quite staggering. Do you remember how you felt at the time when you started?
I remember my first week in the kitchen at Haute Cabriere in Franschhoek, at the time I remember thinking there is no way I could ever do this, everybody was multi-tasking cooking 12 things at once, I was scared. I also remember my legs hurting from standing all day. But, after a few weeks, things started to happen naturally for me.
You’ve clearly worked incredibly hard to reach this level of success, what do you think has pushed you?
I am incredibly competitive, I always want to win and be better than the person next to me. And this is what has driven me to be the best. You don’t want to play a board game with me.
La Colombe has been around for a number of years now and it’s had some very well-known chefs pass through its kitchen doors. How do you bring your own unique style to a restaurant that has such an established name?
Over the years, as I have grown in confidence and traveled the world for inspiration, this has become easier and we have gone from strength to strength. Everything that we do must be unique and original.
We recently experienced a truly special meal at La Colombe; can you tell us what goes into planning a lengthy degustation menu like this?
Some dishes have been trialed for over a year before we get them right and are happy to serve them in the restaurant. It is a true team effort. As a team we have weekly brainstorming sessions of new ideas and old ideas that have never worked and try to get them right.
When you are tucked away in a kitchen do you still get to take in people’s reaction to your food?
Luckily with an open plan kitchen so I get to see people’s reaction when they are presented with a dish and their expression when they take their first bite.
With such a curated and planned menu is there still room for errors during service?
There are always bad days, but they have become few and far between.
Do you have a someone that you consider a mentor? How have they helped shape you in your career?
My team are my collective mentors. A lot of us have been together for many years now and together we have grown and fed off each others passion to be the best we can be.
Can you share one of your favourite food memories with us?
Eating at The Fat Duck in England 10 years ago was my favourite; I was still a young chef and finding my feet and that meal inspired me to be the best I could be.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?
Always give your all, work as a team, and make sure you do everything better today than you did yesterday.
Last book you read: Harry Potter
Favourite sweet: Rascals
Unusual/Weird habit: Whenever I’m walking around thinking of food, I practice my golf swing
Bucket list holiday destination: Swiss Alps
Drink at the end of service: Castle Lite
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