Mountain Café owner and head chef – KJ
Kj is a passionate, straight-talking, award-winning chef from New Zealand who lives and works in the Cairngorms, Scotland.
Owner and Head Chef of The Mountain Cafe, Aviemore and author of The Mountain Cafe Cookbook; A kiwi in the Cairngorms, Kj is also a contributor to BBC Radio Scotland’s Kitchen Cafe.
Kj grew up on her grandparents’ farm in Temuka, South Island, New Zealand. Home reared, home grown and home cooked food was KJ’s culinary foundation. She studied professional cookery at Aoraki Polytechnic in Timaru from 1996-1999. While she was studying she was selected twice to represent the Polytechnic competing at the New Zealand Culinary Fare. Both years Kj was part of a team that bought back gold medals and in 1999 the team won Toque d’Or, New Zealand’s premier student culinary and restaurant service competition.
At the age of 20, Kj scraped together enough cash for a one-way ticket to the UK and for the next year immersed herself in the London culinary world. She experienced everything from Michelin-starred hotels to London fine dining and eventually, Annie O’Carroll’s fusion restaurant, Luca.
Kj then went travelling around the UK and finally found herself in Aviemore looking for a weekend of skiing. She fell in love with Scotland (and a Scotsman!) and three years later was settled in the Cairngorms and about to take over a small, run-down café above an outdoor shop in Aviemore.
Opening the cafe was a huge learning curve but with a lot of hard work, good advice, passion and determination she is now the very proud owner and Head Chef of the multi award-winning Mountain Cafe, Aviemore. Kj’s ethos has always been to deliver fresh, locally sourced, home cooked food with a kiwi twist. She’s also passionate about catering to a range of dietary requirements without compromising on taste.
Kj’s first book, The Mountain Cafe Cookbook; A Kiwi in the Cairngorms brings together over 130 of Kj’s favourite recipes. The Cookbook sold out within a month of publication and is on its’ second print run. The success of the book has taken Kj all over the country making public appearances and delivering motivational talks to members of the public and the tourist industry. From The Pitlochry Winter Words Book Festival to the Great Loch Ness Tea Party, part of Scottish Tourism week, Kj has been sharing her knowledge and insight into running a successful award-winning business.
A second cookbook is in the pipeline for 2019.
To find out more about Kj the chef, visit her website.