Introducing Grant Kennedy “It is important to me that I give back to the local community” Grant Kennedy, Executive Chef at the Radisson Blu Hotel, has a tendency to warm the hearts of each and every person he meets. Aside from having his own range of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, Grant is one of the ambassadors of Unilever and has an intense passion for food that’s hard to match! Amidst his busy life, Grant took some time out to chat to SPICE4LIFE in order to give us a better idea of the man hidden in the kitchen. ON A PERSONAL NOTE What is your inspiration? Both in your industry and in life? My inspiration behind cooking has to be the small producers; be it the farmers creating wonderful produce or the local fishermen getting up at midnight to go out and catch the amazing fresh Atlantic fish we see in the markets every day. Creating dishes on my menu keeps these guys in business and it is important to me that I give back to the local community. The inspiration in my life would be my wonderful kids and the amazing, beautiful, supportive lady I love. What are your passions aside from cooking? My other passions include spending as much time with my family as possible, reading a good book and sports. What is the worst thing you have had to overcome in order to be a better you? Being impatient with other chefs and having to learn that proper coaching gets better results than shouting. I have become a much calmer operator over the years; my teaching experience has given me the skills to tap the best out of each individual person working for me. This has made me a much better manager – a technique that I could only have mastered with time. Do you do the cooking at home? I don’t cook as much as I would have liked to; but when I do, I really enjoy it. What is your regular comfort meal? I love taking part in social cooking like a Braai or Potjie with my friends and family; but, for myself, a great pasta is always a winner. ADVICE & STUFF Favourite restaurant? Pagalle Restaurant in Cape Town has amazing décor; I love the Jazz and Dancing – just love the vibe. As a Chef, for the food, art and latest trend, I would say the Test Kitchen at the Biscuit Mill has amazing Food. Place in the world? I really loved Kenya. It has incredible tropical beaches and amazing Game Reserves. Thing to do in your free time? My free time is spent with my family, going out together or having a picnic on the beach. Words to live by? “Be honest, love with all your heart and treat others the way you want to be treated”. What’s your superpower / special agent / secret weapon / mojo? My superpower is knowing that I am needed – at work, home and most importantly by my family and kids. Them all relying on me gives me such a drive and passion to succeed. My ‘mojo’ is the passion I have for life and food!! Best celebration “like evaaaa….” Celebration would be any occasion my WHOLE family comes together. All my family lives in the UK (thus I don’t get to see them often anymore) and my kids are in George. Any words of advice for aspiring Chefs? Never give up; it’s not an easy life. Always do your best, get as much experience as you can and travel, travel, travel!! Sharing is caring… White chocolate and macadamia cookies Ingredients 125g butter, softened 165g (3/4 cup) brown sugar 1 egg, lightly beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla essence 150g (1 cup) plain flour, sifted 160g (1 cup) self-raising flour, sifted 200g white chocolate, roughly chopped 150g unsalted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped Method Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Preheat oven to 175°C. Using an electric beater, beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until thick and creamy. Add egg and vanilla essence and continue to beat until well combined. Fold in the plain flour and self-raising flour until just combined, then add the white chocolate and macadamias to form a chunky mixture. Place spoonfuls of the cookie mixture on the prepared tray and gently press down to flatten a little. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside for a few minutes to cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. ON A PROFESSIONAL NOTE When did you know you wanted to be a Chef? When I first started out in the Hospitality Business, I wanted to become a manager. Everyone who starts, however, gets placed into the kitchen. The first time I walked into that large kitchen, I knew right away that I wanted to be a Chef. What do you love most about your job? I love the family environment we have in the kitchen – I am like the father figure to all the staff – the instant gratification you get when a guest loves your food, and, lastly, the professional environment. It’s like a military with uniforms and rank – the tougher the better. What are your favourite food combinations? I like pairing red wine with fish and white wine with red meat. Always away from the norm, something with a story – it gives me a challenge to create flavours that marry well. If you had 30 minutes to cook a meal to impress, what would you cook? A great Risotto to start, the freshest piece of grilled Fish and a raspberry soufflé to finish – all quite simple dishes but would WOW every time! Favourite spice to cook with? Cumin & Star anise at the moment. In your opinion, what is going to be “the next big thing” in the food world? Vegetarian Grand food. SHOUT OUT Who? Where? What? To all my colleagues in the world of food, especially at the Radisson Blu Hotel – keep up the good work. To the love of my life Faldielah – you rock my world, I could not live without you. Liam & Jordan – my beautiful kids who live in George, I am sooooooooo proud of you, I miss you always and can’t wait to see you again. Azra & Arzu – my adopted Beautiful Kids here in Cape Town – your love is just amazing, thank you for being there for me. 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