Kylie Javier Ashton has dealt with forged bookings, martini glass accidents, disguising Alex Atala with garbage bags, and countless people throwing up when she’s on the job (“you could see the frequency of the voms go up when the scampi dish was on” is one of the most memorable lines from this interview). Having survived all that, it’s clear that she still loves her work and wants people to join the industry (as her involvement in Women In Hospitality, Appetite For Excellence and Grow shows).
Kylie Javier Ashton got her start at Tetsuya’s, when it was ranked in the Top 5 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. She’s since become the award-winning restaurant manager at Momofuku Seiobo, which has been twice-named the best restaurant in Australia by Gourmet Traveller. Not a bad place for her to be, considering she didn’t “even know how to carry plates” when she entered the industry.
Kylie has many amazing stories to tell, and covers it all, from what it’s like to actually work with David Chang (she’s amazed he even remembers her name!), the background to Paul Carmichael’s food at Seiobo and why she asks her staff to give presentations on Caribbean culture, and the reality of your restaurant being in two pieces in The New York Times: one by Pete Wells, the other by Besha Rodell.
Plus: that memorable period running Duke Bistro with Mitch Orr, Thomas Lim and Mike Eggert (which followed her spell at Bentley Restaurant & Bar with Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt – the “hardest” place she worked). And let’s not forget the time she also boxed in Cuba.
I LOVED talking to Kylie for this interview and she drops some of the best lines I’ve heard (it’s worth listening to this episode so you can discover why “I’ve just been out on Oxford Street with an eyepatch” and “I didn’t realise I was Wolverine for so long” are two of the greatest things anyone has ever said on this podcast).
You can listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts or download it via RSS or directly. You can also find it on Stitcher and Google Podcasts nowadays. And thanks to everyone who has left a nice review in Apple Podcasts or even just told me in person that they enjoy the podcast, it means a hell of a lot.
Photography courtesy of Momofuku Seiobo: Kylie portrait by Jason Loucas, restaurant photo by Alan Richardson.