Meet Maria Kabal, our head chef at Añada. Maria’s been working in our kitchen for the past three years and recently stepped into the role of head chef. She makes churros into a thing of beauty and leads an all-female kitchen. Her recent menu additions are delish, and we wanted to catch up with her to get the 411 on all things back of house.
How did you land in this lady boss position at Añada?
Landing the job was a process over 3 years. I came to Australia with the intention of just staying for 1 year and continuing my travels. However, one thing led to another and I found myself amongst good people who encouraged my growth and I decided to stay. I was a very creative chef before but working under Russell, the previous head chef of Añada, taught me the financial side of things. After a few years of working under him and expanding my knowledge it felt like a natural progression.
What made you decide to run with an all-female kitchen? Was that a conscious decision?
At the moment, finding chefs is hard. Its more about finding warm bodies than anything else. In my personal experience, working with women in the past, regardless of their experience or background, they are very hard-working. I think they also find it easier to stomach authority, disregarding age or sex. I would never discriminate when looking at CV’s but I must say I was dreaming of starting a girl gang and sometimes dreams do come true.
You seem really close with the ladies you work with. What traits do you look for in the people you hire to work alongside you in the kitchen?
Work ethic is very important to me. So the first thing I look for is a strong work ethic because that means you have respect for your colleagues and the work that you do. For me, respect is the first step towards so many good practices in the kitchen and in life.
With this fresh outlook and new crew working the grills, what can guests of Añada look forward to seeing more of on the menu?
I am definitely in love with all kinds of offal, meat or fish. It would be wonderful if I could make our customers love that too. As a team we hope to make rustic Spanish dishes elegant yet full flavoured. We are always working on specials, trying out unusual flavour combinations.
If you were to pick one day a year to go all-out crazy with a huge meal and the best company, what would that scene look like for you? Who would be along for the ride?
Honestly, spending those few public holidays with the team at Añada are the ones I look most forward to. We always cook outrageous meals and stay up until the early hours of the morning. Regardless of the ups and downs we have experienced, we have built a little family here and what better way to go all-out?