The Apple Shed Kitchen & Bar on the Mapua wharf has been a mainstay during the development of the area into the outstanding locale it is today. From the days when Dennis and Sharon Crawford started smoking fish in a run-down wharf building that had a business next door selling live crabs to the beautifully redeveloped wharf area, The Apple Shed has been there in one form or another for more than 30 years.
Today it is owned by Keiran and Gemma Inglis who took over The Apple Shed business in 2018 and set about rebuilding the business into, once again, a key piece of the thriving Mapua wharf area.
Keiran is a highly trained chef who has worked in some of London’s most recognizable restaurants, but his food journey started when he was a young lad. He grew up just outside Edinburgh where his parents owned a pub and restaurant.
“I learned a lot about cooking from my mother and one or two chefs who worked for them. When I went to university I studied business and finance, I loved numbers but as I got into it I thought that this career pathway possibly wasn’t for me in the long term. As students do, I worked in bars and restaurants to earn some money and loved the buzz and atmosphere, it was a lot of fun – work long hard hours and play hard too.”
Not quite sure of what the future held for him Keiran moved to London when he was 21 and did an apprenticeship with Jaime Oliver at his restaurant ‘15’.
“The time with Jaime elevated my passion for cooking, we were exposed to people who were passionate about their role in the industry, we were exposed to some wonderful products and produce. We had trips to Italy to help us understand things like how olive oil is produced and the different flavours of those oils. It was incredible how much we crammed into the year. We also worked with Hammersmith College to get a formal chef qualification at the same time.”
Keiran says that when he came out of the immersive year he had a sense of disappointment, “we thought we were chefs but we were just beginning, we had only started our cooking journey and it took a little while to realise that and then move forward.
“A chef, Arthur Potts-Dawson, pointed me in the right direction, I could be pretty loose and was pretty confident, maybe over-confident, and he saw I needed some discipline in the kitchen to really succeed.
“On his advice, picked a handful of Michelin Star restaurants in London and knocked on doors. I can still remember it; I didn’t know Mayfair at all, but it felt like a special place to walk around. On a miserable morning I walked into la Gavroche and then The Square where owner Phil Howard arrived on his daily bike commute as I knocked on the back door, he walked me into the office, we talked for a while and he offered me a job.”
Keiran says that working at The Square cemented his ability and passion for cooking, “I ended up in the pastry section, loved it and thrived in the environment. I spent 2 ½ years there where I grew to be the head pastry chef. Going into that world of fine dining was transformational for me.”
“Phil was very nurturing and inspirational about how he went about things, everything was very well thought out, but there was a simplicity to his cooking, the food was the hero and we just elevated it, and that’s what I try to bring to our food at The Apple Shed.”
In 2009 Keiran secured a job in the superyacht industry working under Kiwi head chef Hamish Watson, “he now lives in Picton and we got on like a house on fire from day one, there was different styles of food from each of us but it worked very well.
In 2011 he joined the crew of the Maltese Falcon, one of the world’s largest sailing yachts. “Being able to sail into places like New York, up the Hudson River, into Antigua and on the next yacht sailing into my hometown of Leith and up the Thames were special experiences.”
“A year after we arrived in Nelson we started looking around for work here and I realized it was going to be difficult for me to be employed at the level I was used to so self-employment seemed like the answer.
“The first time I looked at this restaurant we realized it was an amazing location. Of course, it was challenging when we first bought it, we were about to have our first baby, but my parents were visiting from Scotland and because they had been successful in the hospitality business dad was able to help guide me through the process of buying the business and setting it up the way we wanted to. I think it was satisfying for them to see me move into my own business in a sector they were passionate about.
“TDC have been wonderful landlords, we have worked with them to make some changes and now have a new path entrance way, that means from the carpark to each table we now have totally flat access. TDC has been really responsive and supportive of what we want to do, they want to see us looking after their assets and to help make the entire wharf precinct a vibrant place.”
Keiran brings his impressive international food experience to The Apple Shed and says there are exciting times ahead. If you want to experience some outstanding food prepared by an internationally trained and experienced chef paired with wines from Rimu Grove then you need to book a table at the upcoming Feast Whakatu event at The Apple Shed Kitchen & Bar. www.theappleshed.nz
Published in the Nelson Mail 25-10-23