"Hi, do you guys sell xantham gum and agar agar? Yes we do....Ok I'll try borrow my mum's credit card so I can buy some...."
It was this twitter exchange between a young teenager and a supplier of modern cuisine ingredients that originally drew our attention to the Australian born Dylan Carter.
At 13-years-old Dylan is not obsessed by the latest crazes, he's not out with the rest his friends kicking cans and riding bikes and he's not spending all his time glued to the TV...he's actually busy borrowing Mum's credit card so he can buy himself new ingredients, learn new techniques, and perfect his own kitchen style. This is all because Dylan's passion is cooking, something it seems he's getting quite good at.
Sous Vide Petuna Ocean Trout with fennel, cucumber, parsley, nasturtium and nori - smoked scallops with scallop custard, cauliflower, apple, celeriac, parsley and foraged herbs - Potatoes and leeks in textures. All dishes you wouldn't think twice about if they appeared on a Michelin menu and all dishes devised, formed and perfected by a 13-year-old. But what exactly draws someone to the kitchen at such a young age?
"The springboard for my interest in cooking was an Australian reality TV program “Masterchef” in 2010. As mum’s not really into cooking, I began spending time with my Nanna in her kitchen, following simple recipes and developing basic cooking skills and techniques", explained Dylan.
Just a year after this Dylan found himself standing in front of the Junior Masterchef Australia judges presenting his Bitter Sweet Chocolate Marquee cake and eventually being selected from thousands as one of the show's Top 50 Contestants. He finished 27th in the competition but by then he'd firmly caught the culinary bug.
He's worked at some of the best restaurants in Australia practicing his skills in high pressured, fine dining kitchens. Four In Hand, Attica and the Pier restaurant are just a few of the places that have welcomed the young chef.
Why not football, why not video games like the rest of Australia's teenagers and why such an interest in fine dining food? "The passion comes from research into fine dining cuisine developed at some of the world’s top restaurants and my family’s willingness to support my passion and allow me to experience firsthand some amazing fine dining. I was absolutely blown away by the unbelievable tastes, textures and creative presentation of the food served in these awesome restaurants. I love to challenge myself in the kitchen and knew that this was the type of cuisine I wanted to create."
He wants to be the best and he's certainly getting the experience, however, there's still one chef he's desperate to work with, "the Mugaritz Kitchen in San Sebastian with Andoni Luis Aduriz. I absolutely love his cuisine and his philosophy of interacting with nature while using modern scientific techniques."
He wishes to one day create his own multi-sensory dining experience in Australia eventually earning a place on The World's 50 Best Restaurants List. "My dream restaurant would be called ‘Dylan’. It would be situated looking out on a beautiful waterfront landscape such as Sydney Harbour, similar to Flying Fish, Ormeggio or the Pier Restaurants. Upon arrival guests would have the choice of relaxing with pre-dinner drinks on comfortable lounges to admire the view or be seated at beautiful wooden tables adorned with white linen tablecloths."
For now he's content to practice at home with whatever ingredients he can convince his mum to finance, slowly climbing the culinary ladder.
The next Ramsay? We think not but the next Redzepi? maybe...at the moment he says he's working hard, gaining experience and keeping his feet firmly on the ground, "I would love to be spending more time in the kitchen but unfortunately I’m limited to school holidays. I aim to continue to do well at school so that I can eventually study “molecular gastronomy”.
Staff shortages are hitting the hospitality sector hard, prompting some restaurants to look outside the industry to train those without restaurant experience for life in the kitchen. Andrew Friedman finds out more.