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Food & Drink

Chef Tim Newton’s kitchen confidential

Step into the kitchen with the head chef at French Mediterranean restaurant Bagatelle

If you’re not cooking to impress your wife or girlfriend, you got no game.

What’s your earliest food memory?

I have a lot! I think the earliest ones are cooking with my Gran — making little cakes and biscuits for tea.

How did you enter the industry?

I started at a pizzeria in my hometown delivering and sometimes getting to make pizzas when I was 16. Then I moved to a restaurant in Oakland, California, and really just started my career. Worked for an amazing chef who encouraged me to continue as a chef and had great family support.

Professional kitchens are renowned as stressful environments. How do you handle the pressure?

Guinness helps. Hahaha! Just kidding. I have an amazing wife who also works in a kitchen, so we unwind together and de-stress together. I also find that using the gym three to four times a week releases a lot of pressure.

How often do you cook outside the workplace?

I cook one night a week. Every Monday. We make tacos, pastas and sometimes fire up the pizza oven in the garden.

If you’re not cooking to impress your wife or girlfriend, you got no game.

What’s the best restaurant you’ve eaten at and what made it memorable?

La Colombe in Cape Town. My wife (girlfriend at the time) and I had an amazing lunch and after we went out for a walk into the vineyard and I proposed. That restaurant will always have a place in my heart.

Conversely, what would you never eat again?

Balut, an underdeveloped chicken embryo. Picture eating a bird with feathers and a beak mixed with hard-boiled egg. Not running out to try it again.

Does a man who cooks win brownie points at home?

Definitely. If you’re not cooking to impress your wife or girlfriend, you got no game. Food is the gateway to the soul.

What’s your top life hack for the layman in the kitchen?

I don’t know much about hacks but always buy good-quality meat and keep beef and chicken stock in the cupboard. Not the cubes!

What’s your one indispensable kitchen implement?

Definitely a food processor. From making doughs to soups to sauces — it’s a must in my kitchen.

What new trends are you seeing?

I think the current food trend and future of food will be more vegan and vegetarian choices at restaurants and fast-food outlets. It’s definitely on the rise and people are being a lot more conscious about what they put into their bodies and the effects that high-volume farming and cattle are having on our planet.

Who’d you invite to your ideal dinner table?

My wife, my mum, my sisters and brothers and my wife’s family. When I get asked this question I always answer with famous celebrities or sports stars, but to be honest I really value my family and love spending time with them. They are the most important influencers in my life and without them I really would be lost.

If you could choose your final meal, what would it be?

Every time I’m asked and all the time I answer: fried chicken and mashed potato with a nice thick gravy and corn on the cob.

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