Outside the La Colombe context and the glory that comes with being owner-chef, he is as humble as bread and butter pudding; but with the ability to produce exquisite meals.
Sit down and chat to Kirton and you will be given insight into what pairing unthinkable ingredients with sheer artistry is able to achieve. Kirton’s cuisine surprised me the most. I expected good food but he gave me great and then kept upping the ante with each course.
What makes Kirton tick? “Competition and the will to be the best you can possibly be makes me tick. It’s about creating new, untasted combinations. “You can’t use tried and tested combinations. You have to think outside the box. You have to come up with exciting flavours that are going to wow guests.
“At La Colombe, every dish we put on the menu has an exciting element to it.” Each course is laden with the elements of earth, fire, water and air. The plating and execution of the meals can only be described as phenomonal. Kirton’s thought process is next level. How does he come up with the dishes he creates?
“I wake up at three in the morning and start jotting down some notes, writing down different combinations. We travel a lot and come across different food cultures. We experience what their food is about and bring some of it back to South Africa.
“It could be as simple as finding a new piece of crockery that inspires a new dish.
“To date I don’t believe I have created a perfect dish. As a chef I believe every dish can be improved upon. That is my philosophy in the kitchen, that everything can be better.”
The signature dish is the delectable Tinned Tuna La Colombe. It is layered with light asian nuances and plated in a can of tuna. As each dish passes over your table it feels like you are at a show, Kirton is the star act and you have to restrain yourself from clapping after each course is served.
The creation of this dish is interesting. It has been on the menu since the opening at Silver Mist. It is a tuna tataki served with an umami broth, avocado, lemon and shiitake mushrooms. “The dish came about when they were experimenting with creating a pilchard dish. We started looking at different tins for the pilchards. The pilchard dish went terribly wrong and after some brainstorming and team work we came up with Tinned Tuna La Colombe.”
Kirton doesn’t want to give his guests a meal, he wants them to leave with a memory they will cherish three or four years down the line.
“Our food style is very theatrical, experimental, every course has to have a wow factor. Something that is going to blow the guest’s mind. “It is a great honour to be named one of the top restaurants in the country, it humbles us. It is not about one chef. I see it as one of the top three teams in the country. I don’t work alone, there are 23 chefs creating and pushing the boundaries here at La Colombe.”