Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Alan Kaye, an Englishman whose main inspiration is his mother’s (terrible) cooking.
I remember the first time I tasted herbs at home, I think I was 11. I got obsessed with flavors. Britain has got a reputation for poor cooking, and I can bear no other testimony based on what I got served growing up, nevertheless England has some of the greatest chefs.
In my early 20s I started working in Gordon Ramsey’s eponymous restaurant with 3 Michelin stars. The Head Chef was Claire Smith, today recognized as the best female chef in the world. She yelled at me daily, threw pots at me occasionally and opened my eyes to the world of haute cuisine. This was the starting point of a decade-long culinary journey.
My first destination was Barcelona, where I worked for four years in three different restaurants: Abac, Comerc 24 and Evo. Completely different to London. It’s like opera and jazz – both can be
equally beautiful, at the same time they’re diametric in terms of expression and vibe. The elaboration and manipulative techniques in Catalonian modern cuisine are unlike anywhere.
From Spain I went to Sydney where I worked for Greg Doyle, one of the great Australian chefs. He taught me fish preparation on a whole different plane. The cooking Down-Under follows its own rhythm: it’s more laid back and understated, but the quality of the produce and ingredients are at the same time amplifying.
My time in Denmark was spent as Head Chef in Wassim Halals wonderful restaurant, Fredrikshøj. The Nordic cuisine is so elegant and clean – like a Vivaldian composition. Dairy, seafood and preserved produce in the winter, adding sprouts in the spring, leading to an explosion of vegetables, berries and fruits in the summer and autumn.
Which leads me to where I am today, in Bergen. Everywhere I’ve lived have been different, but at the same they’ve all been the same. Different expressions, but the same harmonious beauty. Munkens kitchen is multicultural. Everything is allowed – we don’t refuse ideas on the basis of past merits: if it’s good, we’ll serve it.
Western Norway has the highest quality seafood I’ve come across, and the seasonal flavors are sharper and richer. Running the kitchen at Munken, I am making use of all my past experiences to make the best of what the area gives us. Now, I’m not saying I’ll be composing music with my cooking, but if you come by, you might hear the occasional thump from me throwing pots at the staff.