Gavin Kaysen is the owner of the Spoon and Stable Restaurant in Minneapolis and is one of a handful of chefs from the USA to stand and represent his country at the biannual Bocuse d’Or culinary competition in Lyon, France.
It was 2007 when Kaysen first competed at the event, placing 14th, but it’s a position that shouldn’t be overlooked. It was Kaysen’s participation that marked the beginning of a long journey for team USA, Kaysen himself playing a huge part in the running of a foundation formed by Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Paul Bocuse to help strengthen the performance of team USA at what has been called the Olympics of food. It was 2015 when they won Silver, following up in 2017 with Gold, Kaysen was Vice President of the team.
Kaysen will offer up some of this experience and mentorship when he takes part in the upcoming S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 event, mentoring the winning candidate for team USA. We caught up with the chef to find out a little more about his past experience and how he will use that to help his young chef achieve success.
If you weren’t a chef what would you be?
I would be in something creative. Not really sure, but I have a love for promoting, marketing and overall storytelling.
Can you explain a dish that defines your cooking well?
Pot Roast. It's a dish we have had on Spoon and Stable’s menu since day one and it's inspired from my grandmother. It's warm, comforting, and technical.
What’s exciting you right now in the world of gastronomy, an interesting trend, ingredient, style of cooking?
I love to see see how easy it is to share and see what others are doing. I feel like it is making our world of food a stronger community.
What was your biggest triumph as a young chef, and is there anything you would consider your biggest failure?
Winning the James Beard Rising Star Chef award at age 28 was a huge goal for me that I was able to achieve. My biggest failure was placing 14th in the Bocuse d’Or competition….but in hindsight, it also inspired us to create a foundation and support for Team USA, and ten years later we took #1 in the world. It all worked out at the end of the day.
As a mentor, what do you expect from your young chef, and what do you think you can offer him / her?
I expect to see discipline, humility and drive. If they have that, it will go further than any technique they have read about.
What would victory in the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition mean for a young chef?
It would teach them that when you dream big, you can achieve that - that is the goal here... dream as big as you can and go after it, have no fear about what can happen, only fear not to have the courage to do it in the first place.
You were involved a lot with Bocuse d’Or over the past years, what does the USA team win for American gastronomy?
It was the most meaningful event to happen to me professionally - it was not about proving the US could do it, it was about showing that a team of people can come together and believe in the same goal, year after year and even if we did not win the first year we could come back with our heads high and go after the same goal again.
What’s your favourite dish to eat?
I love Thai food.
What’s the one food you really dislike?
I don't love calf's liver.