Q & A with Kyle Whitbourne
How do you feel about being appointed as head chef at Mount Pleasant?
I’m very excited about the venue and its refurbishment, and having a mentor like Justin North consulting with the opening has been incredible. The concept and vision for the cellar door is really in line with what I enjoy about cooking and being a chef.
Tell us about what guests can expect from the menu?
The menu has a Mediterranean inspired feel, to be shared and to compliment the carefully curated wine made by our chief winemaker, Adrian Sparks.
How does the menu complement the wines?
Firstly the menu options are designed to cleanse the palette while enjoying the wine flight. As you move further down the menu the options become more detailed or composed. Whilst still taking careful consideration not to overshadow the style and flavour of our wines made at Mount Pleasant.
How was the menu developed?
In consultation with chief winemaker Adrian Sparks, we have put together a selection of dishes using amazing local and national produce. Kept relatively simplistic in its preparation and flavour, with good technique and respect for the product.
What have you enjoyed most about working with Justin North to develop the menu?
Obviously, his knowledge of the industry, use of his flavour palette to match great food with the amazing wine we produce.
Which local producers are we working with?
Currently we are using Hungerford Meat Co. at Branxton for a good proportion of our charcuterie, Adina Olive Grove in Lovedale, Woodlands Olive Grove of Broke and Fawk Foods Bakery in Pokolbin.
What makes Hunter produce a standout?
The Hunter has some exceptional produce from passionate artisans and growers available, and it’s always a privilege to have the opportunity to showcase the products on a menu. Having local chefs or artisans that we can liaise with and help develop a specific product for our needs is something to be desired and I look forward to building these relationships in the future.
What is your cooking style / ethos when it comes to food?
Clearly in our region having access to and using the incredible fresh local produce. I love to cook approachable food that is relatable but with little twists. Having respect for food and looking for ways to utilise all I can from the produce is key.
What inspires you about cooking?
From a young age, I have always been drawn to the organised chaos that are kitchens. Even at its craziest service times there is something smooth and controlled about them. Learning about where produce comes from or how it’s grown is incredible, and once you understand the process of something it’s far easier to work out its applications in a dish.
Career highlights of note?
Over my career I have had the privilege of working with some incredible chefs and establishments. I’d say after working for the Sheraton Hotel in Edinburgh and experiencing a different environment, outstanding produce and the European style of cooking, I came home invigorated and wanting to learn more. Bells at Killcare was my first role back from overseas and it kicked me into gear. Rustic Italian food with true technique, breaking down whole animals and a huge kitchen garden to pick from daily certainly was a highlight and I feel that experience has pushed me to where I am now.