JLT Dining Chef Spotlight: Mark Kidd – Kulcha King
Meet the chef behind Kulcha King’s Indian-inspired everyday food!
There are over 200 restaurants in our neighbourhood and, if you're as much into local food adventures as we are, you might enjoy "meeting" some of the chefs behind JLT's tastiest dishes!
Today, please welcome chef Mark Kidd, the Executive Chef and Operations Manager at Wakira Group, the food investment company behind a number of popular F&B concepts such as El Greco, Nom Nom Asia, and – the only one with a presence in JLT – Kulch King. Mark was born in South Africa and has lived & worked in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. In his role as Executive Chef he’s overall responsible for Kulcha King’s food offerings and menu development.
Mark’s a truly multi-skilled chef, familiar with different cuisines ranging from Arabic and Turkish to Filipino, French, British, and Dutch, and he has successfully overseen many prestigious events such as the International Arab Games, the World petroleum Conference, and the Qatar Marine Festival, often serving up to 175,000 meals per day across 69 kitchens.
We caught up with Mark at Kulcha King in cluster O and asked him a few questions:
JLT Dining: What’s your favourite memory of food?
Chef Mark: My grandmother’s homemade bread. She refused to eat government sliced bread. She always baked huge farmhouse bread - hard sourdough bread. She always used to make homemade bread on Sundays. Bread, butter, and jam is my favourite food memory.
JLT Dining: Do you have a personal mantra that drives the way you cook?
Chef Mark: Yes! Assumptions is the mother of all mess ups [laughs]. Simplicity. Especially now where everything seems to be processed, everything seems to be canned, bottled up and packaged. The simpler you can do it, the fresher you can do it, the less complex you can do something, ultimately the better the end product.
JLT Dining: If you could cook for a high-profile personality, who would it be and what would you serve them?
Chef Mark: Heston Blumenthal. He’s a very eccentric chef and his restaurant is where chefs go to get inspiration. I would cook him a proper South African braai, a real BBQ for the unrefined. It’s just so uncomplicated, but even with the simplicity of it you can still easily mess it up if you don’t do it properly. A perfectly cooked steak. Perfectly cooked vegetables on an open fire – all signs of how good or bad you are and whether you’ve got an eye for the details.
JLT Dining: What’s your favourite comfort food?
Chef Mark: A Bacon Buttie [laughs]. This was the case until I moved to Dubai and started working on our brands and the Cheese Kulcha from Kulcha King took over as my ultimate comfort food. I obviously twist it and take it home, smother it with honey and butter, and over-indulge.
JLT Dining: What’s one ingredient you can’t stand?
Chef Mark: Ketchup! Processed packaged sauces. Artificial flavours. Artificial colours!
JLT Dining: If you had to choose a last meal, what would it be?
Chef Mark: A 38 days aged beef porterhouse or prime rib, preferably with asparagus and rosemary jus. The real intense pan gravy, not the artificial sauces. Served medium!