15 November 2023

Five Minutes With Amit Kashyap, Midnight Hotel

| Claire Sams
Braddon Merchant Chef Amit

Chef Amit is head of his team at Braddon Merchant, located inside Midnight Hotel in Canberra’s north. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Who are you?

I’m Amit Kashyap, Midnight Hotel’s Executive Chef, and I’ve been in this industry for 10 to 15 years now.

How did you get your current role at Midnight Hotel?

I moved from Sydney to Canberra when we opened Midnight Hotel in 2019. I joined as a sous chef at that time. Then I was promoted to head chef. Now, I am leading the hotel’s kitchen as executive chef at our on-site venues, Midnight Bar and Braddon Merchant.

What are the key things someone should know about you?

As a person, I’m honest and very straightforward. I like to keep things simple and not make them complicated.

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What does your day-to-day look like?

My role is to make sure everything runs smoothly, day-to-day. One of my main tasks involves meticulously planning menus catering to our valued guests’ preferences and tastes. Additionally, I am actively involved in training our staff members to guarantee exceptional service at all times. I oversee various aspects to ensure everything is up to standard and executed on time for both functions and our restaurant.

I have realised that I am not particularly keen on being a manager confined to office spaces. Instead, I find a lot of fulfilment in being actively involved in cooking and enjoy that.

How did you get involved in the hospitality industry?

I studied hospitality in India; however, cooking has always held a special place in my heart. So, in 2008, I moved to Australia and embarked on a culinary journey. For the first six or seven years, I had the privilege of working under talented Italian chefs, honing my skills in pasta-making.

For me, cooking is portraying myself and putting what I’m thinking about on the plate.

Midnight Hotel chef Amit

Amit says he keeps an eye out for things he can implement into his own cooking. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

What are the top menu items that really show what Midnight Hotel can do?

On the current menu, I have mussels infused with saffron butter, samphire and lemon myrtle. There is also a fish – I use pink snapper – that comes with salt-baked sugarloaf cabbage and salsa verde.

I always try to spend more time cooking and less time plating. I just want to keep things simple.

What is your favourite or must-use ingredient when cooking?

For me, it’s chilli, fennel and cumin. I really like to infuse them into my cooking.

What is Canberra’s best-kept food secret?

Pilot in Ainslie is very popular, and I’ve been there many times. Temporada in Civic is also nice, as is Rebel Rebel in Acton.

What TV show or movie are you watching right now?

I’m not a TV person – I don’t watch that many shows. But I am looking forward to the new season of Squid Game on Netflix. Apart from that, I’m a sportsperson for the moment. I’m just watching the ICC Cricket World Cup.

What do you wish people understood about your job?

People need to see that there’s a lot of effort a chef puts into a dish. Even if you order a cheeseburger, there’s a lot of prep behind that. The chef put their effort and time into that – for small to big things. Anything put on the plate takes time and effort and knowledge to get that dish ready, to make it pretty and served on time for the guests.

Midnight Hotel chef Amit

When he isn’t working, Amit is one of many waiting for the next season of Squid Game to come out. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

What is your favourite kind of food to eat?

I like to eat everything – any country, any cuisine. I like to taste everything, so I can implement it in my menus. In Indian cuisine, I like the spices, and for Italian, I like the simplicity – it’s all about the ingredients you’re using from the farmer or producer. I love Japanese cuisine, a lot of the flavours there are very good.

But if I need to pick a comfort food, I’d go for ramen. There’s Ikigai Ramen in Gungahlin, which is very good.

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Where do you dine out for special occasions?

Mostly, I will go to Sydney or Melbourne to see my family. But in Canberra, I really like Gungahlin a lot.

If I want a coffee or pastry, I’ll go to Le Bon Mélange in Gungahlin. It’s an excellent French cafe with beautiful pastries and coffee.

Who do you admire in the Canberra food scene?

I think Pilot in Ainslie is doing a great job and putting the restaurant industry in Canberra on the map. Such and Such in Civic just recently won an award, so I think they’re doing well.

Chefs are putting in a lot of effort and time, and Canberrans appreciate that.

An easy one to finish – what’s your go-to coffee order or cocktail?

I like a skim flat white. For a drink, I really like a classic Margarita or a Negroni.

Braddon Merchant at the Midnight Hotel is located at 1 Elouera Street in Braddon. Check their website for opening times.

Original Article published by Claire Sams on Riotact.

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