By Georgia Hackett
Think about a peanut butter sandwich.
Its simplicity instills a miraculous sense of nostalgia; its flavour has the power to transfer taste into emotion.
The power of the peanut butter sandwich never escaped the attention of Kye Martin, who has been a chef since 16 and is confident in the ability of food to fuse together cultures through this combination of flavour and nostalgia, sensation and emotion.
From Kalgoorlie pub grub to Subiaco style to award-winning cultural cuisine, Kye’s cooking and background is extensive; and it hasn’t stemmed his sense of cultural adventure.
Now 29, he is enjoying cooking for fun rather than work and is still passionate about creating new recipes and fusions that combine his favourite flavours that inspire childhood and travel.
“To take two separate, simple ingredients and make something so special out of them, that’s what we wanted to do” he says. “We’re just taking two beautiful foods and having a bit of fun with it, we’re literally playing with our food.”
His previous job, for American hip hop-themed restaurant Biggie Smalls, is what won him an award for up-and-coming menu design at the 2015 Melbourne Spring Food Festival.
The award-winning “Corn Row Salad”, created by Kye and a Turkish chef Shane, was inspired by American culture, with each chef’s own twist. It has fried corn, with popcorn for extra crunch and a classically American smoky barbecue flavour.
The dish was designed to highlight the best of American cuisine. “Everything from that smoky Texas barbecue feel to that fancy New York restaurant,” he says.
The restaurant served other cultural infusions such as maple pulled pork with peanut butter hummus, all inspired by combining and modernising classic recipes from American and Turkish culture.
“That New Orleans, home-cooked kitchen feel, mixed with Turkish culture, is what we were aiming for,” he says, searching for the words: “Soul food.”
He cooks mostly in his backyard, with the sun shining and an Indian tablecloth spread out over the trestle table.
When the weather allows it, he likes to cook for his friends over the fire; wearing a shirt that reads ‘Antisocial Social Club’. He says he enjoys the fact that his cooking “brings people together” and combining two cultures makes it all the more powerful.