An Interview with Our Chef, Kyle Heatherly
You worked for Kensington Gardens when it was operating as a wedding event venue. What inspired you to come back to work for Kensington Gardens Resort Living Community?
I spent the better part of a decade leading the culinary team at The Seattle Art Museum where we had the unique opportunity to serve a vast array of cuisines to museum guests, private parties, as well as international and local dignitaries . I am excited to come home to Gig Harbor and partner with Kensington Gardens again. I look forward to the opportunity to design our future dining concepts using health and wellness as our guiding principles.
What is your vision for the dining experience for our Resort Living Members?
I'd love to see our dining program take shape in such a way that we are able to create a holistic approach which enriches the lives of our community members, utilizing data driven nutritional science to support our residents in their mental and physical wellness journeys.
What ingredients are inspiring you right now?
I’m truly inspired by the Slow Food Movement. The concept is that food is defined by three interconnected principles: good, clean, and fair. What that means is that the food is good quality, flavorsome and healthy. It’s clean and producing the food does not harm the environment. Finally, it is fair meaning the prices are accessible for consumers and producers to work under fair conditions and pay. I believe that following the Slow Food principles will keep us on the right path for our community and planet.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
I love anything I can throw on the smoker such as ribs, pork shoulder, or brisket. Toss in some grilled veggies and a few friends to enjoy with and that’s my favorite recipe for a great evening!
What is your philosophy on food and creating gourmet meals for people?
I believe you should eat with the season. Nature tells us where to find the most nutritious foods, we just have to listen.
What do you enjoy most about working as a chef?
I love being a part of people’s special moments. It’s a unique privilege to prepare meals for a wedding or someone’s 90th birthday celebration.
Where do you draw inspiration for new recipes and food pairings?
I like to draw my inspiration from the past. I truly believe in approachable cuisine. Avant-Garde has its place, but in my opinion, it’s not on the plate. Food should evoke a sense of nostalgia.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
I would say Rustic Northwest best describes my style. I enjoy finding fresh, local ingredients and preparing them in a way that allows them to shine.
Is there a secret ingredient that you love to cook with?
Every ingredient you use should be of the best quality, including your salt. It is the essential element (pun intended) to any dish and we all know it must be delicately balanced. For that reason, I love to use the sea salts from Jacobsen Salt Co. It’s a local Pacific Northwest company. All of their salts are wonderful and there are many flavors to choose from, but my favorite is the original Pure Flake Sea Salt.
Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
I believe you should never feel guilty about foods that bring you pleasure.