Ahappy kitchen is its own reward
Former 1024 restaurant owner and chef Kent Baddeley is amping to get back in the kitchen. He chats to Mark Story
1What’s Kent Baddeley been up to since the closing of 1024?
At present I have been laid up waiting on an operation. I have had some exceptional offers which sadly I have had to turn down.
The concept of 1024 was a homage of sorts to my chef grandmother. We took a lease of six years to see this through. Compiling the dishes since we exited the building, we noted more than 5000 dishes of East Coast producer food. Extraordinary! We’re pleased to note there were a couple of great dishes in there.
2When can we expect your next iteration - and what can we expect?
I have been contemplating my next food exploration saddened that this will possibly be my last stand before I expire?
I am also excited by the journey. I’d like a balance of friendly, casual, soulful environment with small plates and points of focus foodwise on the provenance of the East Coast of New Zealand. A happy place with the perfect balance of everything.
3A local restaurant owner once told me regional restaurants’ biggest competition is the 6pm television news, do you agree?
I note a lot of young cooks cloning themselves and their food to look like what they read and see globally - I believe this is a major flaw in our development. Many are chasing journalists’ approval, but why? Christ knows. Surely cooks should know better.
It’s important to note that Cuisine magazine holds some form of power over many young cooks, hence the copyists of the previous paragraph. The way the magazine talks about restaurants is that they are under their influence. What a nonsense.
4Do you think the advent of TV super star Masterchef been good for the cooking scene?
Masterchef etc seems to create a belief in the public that they are arbiters themselves. I say when a bunch of non-professional home cooks start throwing around contemporary modern methods off the bat, something is happening behind the scenes.
Shake loose and lose the old list mentality and focus more on being better, to yourself, your team and your customers. A happy restaurant is all you need by way of reward.
5Is the premium provenance of our regional food overplayed, or underplayed?
Brand Kent Baddeley (as you call it) has always been about the utilisation of this country’s exceptional dirt-grown, sun-raised product from artisans and growers trusted to be sustainable and to have their produce free of toxins. This mantra has been a major part of my life. The provenance of regional food is exactly where New Zealand should be focused on.