What made you want to get involved with Hungry For It?
I looked at it as an opportunity – it seemed interesting, and from travelling around Europe I knew that the BBC is very well respected and prestigious. It felt fun, so why not?!
How did you get on with your fellow mentor Big Zuu and host Stacey?
We created a bond so quickly and all of our personalities matched really well. It was a match made in heaven – Zuu was like a little brother and Stacey was my fashion queen. We just got along so well, lots of laughing and talking, it was just always fun. After the first day it was like we’d known each other forever, we just clicked.
How would you describe your style as a mentor?
I think I’m more by the book, a little more strict that Zuu! Working privately for a lot of high profile people my style is very time influenced and a lot more strict and clean. Whereas Zuu – he’s all about cooking good food, laughing and talking, he’s a free spirit and goes with the flow. He’s also more rugged and a little more street, and I’m more of a strict restaurant cook.
It’s clear that our styles are a little different – but food is so universal and it can speak for you. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a street in Thailand or in a five star prestigious restaurant in Copenhagen. It can affect you and give you that same memory.
You work with so many big names in the US, was that a difficult thing to achieve?
It was a bit of luck, skill, good timing – all mixed in together. Most importantly, it was word of mouth. Being born and raised in Los Angeles, being a minority, and one of the first in my age group and circle to pursue this career allowed me to stand out. It put me in a league of my own where I was able to dominate and get presented to so many prestigious people.
I got to work with P Diddy through a client who passed away, Nipsey Hussle, his wife Lauren London referred me to him. So I went to work for Diddy, he liked me and now I’ve worked with him for three years. It’s all been about opportunities and relationships, and really capitalising on them and playing my role. The most important thing though is cooking good food!
What do you think makes Hungry For It different to other cookery shows?
I love Hungry For It because there’s so many competitions in one show – I love the Level Up Challenge, the Service Challenge and the Knives Out Challenge. There’s lots of competition moments whether it’s the cooks going up against each other, working as a team, serving the public or really going head to head with one other. I like all the different components in the show.
I think it’s very innovative and new, it incorporates so many other people – special guests, normal everyday people there to eat food, professionals and our host. There’s so many people involved that there’s a lot of feedback and encouragement for the cooks, not just from the two people they see every episode.
I also love how diverse the show is and you really see a culinary journey for the cooks. The show also includes all the different aspects of cooking. It’s not just a super prestige level, or just a ‘make something out of this’ type show. It’s fun, it’s everything that food is today – and you see different sides to it in every episode!
What advice would you give to a budding cook watching Hungry For It?
I think the most important thing is firstly to listen, and then to be receptive to constructive criticism. There’s so many ways to approach food and you can always learn. Take your time and give your best. Stay true to yourself, but also remember that it’s not about you, it’s about your guests and you want to make sure that you’re making them happy. Most importantly – stay confident.
What would your last meal be?
My last meal would have to be Spanish food, a spread of small plates, meat, veggies…I love Spanish tapas!
What was the craziest food moment in your career?
In 2018 a light switch flipped and I was working like crazy! At the end of 2017 I started working for Nipsey Hussle consistently, and just after that I started working for Justin Bieber. I had a chef at Justin’s house, I was juggling two or three clients a day and I started my agency. I’ve had some of my best years ever since!
Can you describe the ‘Kayla tingle’?
The Kayla tingle happens when I’m eating the most delicious things – it’s a tingling feeling, and it makes me pucker my lips and it’s like I can taste every single flavour of the dish. It gives me chills all through my body and down my throat!
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