What's It Like To Live With A Chef? Inside The Life Of Culprit's Kyle Street

From long hours to who does the cooking, Kyle Street and Kathryn Walker talk to Leisha Jones about their day-to-day reality

Kathryn Walker and Kyle Street. Photo / Babiche Martens

She loves to eat, but Kathryn Walker makes no secret about the fact that she doesn’t like to cook, and openly admits that when she first started dating Kyle Street — chef and co-owner of Culprit and Lowbrow — she gave him food poisoning more than once. “It’s amazing that you can give somebody food poisoning from hotdogs, but if you try really hard, you can.”

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Despite her culinary pitfalls, Kyle says he was instantly smitten when they met six years ago. Kathryn was working for Skycity recruiting staff for the opening of Federal Delicatessen, where Kyle was the executive chef. He now owns and operates his own restaurants, and Kathryn works for Sprout, a smaller recruitment agency. This means they can steal moments of time together throughout the week — maybe a brunch on Wednesday, or errands together on a Saturday, but most days they hardly see each other at all.

They make up for lost time on Sundays, when Kyle turns off his alarm and catches up on sleep before they lazily head out for brunch — Odette’s, Honeybones and Simon and Lee are favourites — and then spend the remainder of the day chilling around the house, sometimes cooking a low-key dinner of quesadillas, steak and veges, or “brinner” (breakfast for dinner).

“It’s 15-minute meals basically,” says Kyle. “It’s a means to an end so we can spend more time together. There’s not much joy for me cooking at home actually.”

Finishing work late in the city and needing to eat means Kyle often falls back on fast food. Making sure there are healthy options in the fridge so he can cook when he gets home is something they are working on. “I had to learn that,” says Kathryn, “Kyle used to be like, ‘What’s in the fridge?’ And I’d say, ‘Mince and a courgette. Can you not make a meal out of that?’”

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Kathryn says she is a good “sous chef”, a tidy person who sometimes has to clean around Kyle’s clutter in the fridge. “He brings home sauce all the time. We have multiple kinds of mustard and three types of mayonnaise and barbecue sauces. I just wait patiently until something expires and then I’m like, “Can we throw this out yet?”

The couple say they eat out more than they eat at home. Photo / Babiche Martens

“It’s like hoarding,” says Kyle, “because some of them don’t even get opened and eaten, I see something that I want to taste and I buy it and forget about it.”

The couple say they eat out more than they eat at home, but their idea of an ideal date-night differs. Kyle is a self-described “big-time burger guy” who would happily bounce between Burger Burger, Tiger Burger, Big J’s and Fishsmith on his days off; whereas Kathryn prefers a finer style of dining, such as Apero and Azabu. Sid Sahrawat is her (second) favourite chef.

Recently, Kyle diverted her from a planned night at Sidart with girlfriends to surprise her with a visit to Cocoro, where he nestled an engagement ring amid a rainbow display of over 30 different kinds of seafood on their signature sashimi platter. How could she say no?

Kathryn attributes the success of their relationship to her always having been very independent. She has her own social life and never waits up for Kyle, saying she has no idea what time he gets home.

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“It’s great for me that she doesn’t,” he says, “because there’s not that pressure there for me. Just to know that she’s happy and sleeping, that’s great. It means her life has balance as well and I’m not ruining that balance.”

With another branch of Lowbrow and a bar across from Culprit opening in the next few months, Kyle says he is better equipped to cope with stress and maintain balance since meeting Kathryn. “I’ve had lots of relationships that have failed because I just couldn’t manage working, coming home and being present. I’d just be too overwhelmed. I’ve been able to manage that stress more now as I’ve gotten older, and now that I own my own business and make my own decisions. Kathryn is someone I thought was worth making that change for in my life.”

Although their time together may become even more scarce with two new openings, Kathryn puts a positive spin on it: “One of the things that I love is your time becomes so precious, so you don’t waste it or take it for granted. If we get to have time off in January together it’s so special and it’s kind of like you meet that person and fall in love all over again.”

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