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June 7, 2018

New chef @ Southland Hospital Cafe

Technical ‘twist’ to recipes = yum, yum, yum

FROM small-town dishwasher to cooking world-class cuisine at some of our country’s premier restaurants, our new Chef Tyler Didier aims to bring it all to Southland Hospital Café.

Our café has been revamped as part of our retail transformation strategy. Tyler and the team have created fresh, modern menus for the busy hospital, including poached chicken breast with creamy tarragon sauce, and vegetable and herbed rice.

“I like to develop a new recipe about every three weeks, and also change dishes to match seasons,” says Tyler, adding he “prefers working with techniques, over recipes”.

“I love tweaking items to produce new dishes, as well as developing techniques for cooking in the large quantities needed for our cafés. This ensures consistency and quality control – as well as efficiency in the kitchen – and … great flavour.”

Starting his career as a dishwasher in the small to  wn of White Rock, Vancouver, Tyler was tasked with frying fish and chips at 14 years old!

My first job was at Moby Dick’s Fish & Chips. Before my first shift the owner called and asked if I could start that night because one his cooks didn’t show. I was put on ‘throw out’ station – I had to plate piping hot fish and chips with my bare hands!

“The owner was German and gave nicknames to us all. My ability to handle the hot food – without whingeing – earned me Siegfried, which is a German hero like Hercules. After that first shift, he said ‘come tomorrow and I’ll teach you to cook’.

“My friend who got me the job was still dishwashing after a year; he was so upset he quit. Almost 30 years later, I still cook fish and chips every Friday.”

Later on, Tyler reached to our shores and worked in Whangaparoa and Orewa before travelling south for the snowboard season in Queenstown. He met his kiwi wife, Alyssa, there while working at Prime, Captains, Cornet Alpine Hotel, Pog Mahone’s, Surreal and Queenstown Golf Club. The couple left to live in Canada, before returning to live in Invercargill.

“Alyssa grew up here and, with two little ones under five, we wanted to be closer to family. I was also pleased to have the opportunity to work at the Southland Hospital Café. There are amazing opportunities to do so much with the menu, in a refreshed setting. On a personal note, in hospitality it can be challenging achieving work / life balance, but my new role allows that.”

Looking ahead, Tyler aims to focus on presentation of the modern hot dish displays.

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