Kyle is a Co-Founder of Pilot R&D. Kyle brings a combined 20 years of restaurant and food development experience to the Pilot Team, with 10 of those years dedicated to research and development. His extensive knowledge of food science, restaurant operations, and food technology startups is instrumental in bringing Pilot's projects to market and advising clients on rapid expansion and scale up strategies. Kyle also sits on the advisory boards of three Pilot clients: Sprig, Exo and Avenir.
In addition to his role at Pilot, Kyle is a chef, cookbook author, and culinary educator. Kyle launched his culinary career in high school by apprenticing at one of the oldest Japanese restaurants in Southern California. He went on to study at The Southern California School of Culinary Arts and cooked through various kitchens in Los Angeles, including Spago Beverly Hills, Lucques, AOC, and the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton Huntington Hotel. He also attended both the California Sushi Academy and Sushi Chef Institute, embarking on internships in several Japanese kitchens, both in Los Angeles and in Western Japan.
In 2003 Connaughton received an offer to work as a chef for the Three Michelin Star restaurant, Michel Bras, at a new second location in Hokkaido, Japan. In 2006, Kyle left Japan and joined Heston Blumenthal at the Three Michelin Starred Fat Duck Restaurant to open The Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen as Head Chef of Research and Development.
That same year, Restaurant magazine named the Fat Duck "Best Restaurant in the World.” During his five years as Head Chef, Kyle collaborated with food scientists, perfumers, designers and various experts to develop The Fat Duck’s multi-sensory cuisine, not only for the menu but also for books, articles, retail products, and television programs.
Kyle was a consulting culinary educator for the Culinary Institute of America, where he recently co-developed the curriculum for the new Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Science along with Pilot Co-Founder Ali Bouzari. He frequently collaborates with chefs and food scientists in Japan on books and lecture series on the subjects of umami and the science of traditional and modern cooking techniques.
Kyle was an editor and contributor for the Modernist Cuisine series and his new book on the subject of traditional Japanese earthenware, Donabe: Classic and Modern Japanese Clay Pot Cooking, was released in 2015 on Ten Speed Press. Kyle opened the restaurant, farm and inn project Single Thread Farms and Inn in Healdsburg in 2016.