1. How do you approach food?
It’s about creating an experience and keeping it fresh. You can’t fault it.
2. What are some key components that go into creating a ‘family favourite’ dish?
A family favourite dish evokes memories from your childhood. It’s a taste that reminds you of the great times shared with your family. It makes your day when you sit down to eat it. Creating a family favourite needs to tap into those memories.
3. What do you strive to do with your menu?
I want to create a menu that allows everyone to pick and choose, to create their own lunch when they’re with their family – the luxury of dining out is choice!
4. One dish you can’t live without?
I love a bit of braised rabbit ragu topped with gremolata.
5. What other experience do you have with hospitality?
I have extensive functions and catering experience, including being a part of the award-winning Icon Event Catering team when they won Corporate Caterer of the Year at the Restaurant and Catering Australia Awards for Excellence.
- What was it like to cook for Oprah?
Cooking for Oprah was an incredible experience. She really is a wonderful person and very personal.
- How did your earn your culinary stripes?
I’ve been lucky to have had many local mentors guide and influence me, and they’ve certainly helped me get to where I am today.
- What is your food mantra?
I try to create memorable flavours by keeping things simple and doing it great. People taste when you cook with happiness and from the heart. We might be doing pub food but it doesn’t mean we don’t love what we do.
- How do you cook for the Hills?
I’m a Hills boy through and through so I know my patrons well and always cater to them as best as I can.
- If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
If I wasn’t a chef I’d be working with troubled young men to help them change their lives and reach their full potential.
- Describe your culinary journey:
My culinary journey has been so rewarding working amongst some of the best restaurants in Australia. It has been very tough at some points, requiring my complete commitment but I am now beginning to see the fruits of my hard work and it’s all worth it.
- What drew you to a career in food?
I have always been interested in food. I remember coming home from school and watching Huey’s Cooking or any other cooking show I could find on TV. Meanwhile my sister and friends would all be watching soap operas.
- What’s something we might not know about Jem?
I’m a bit of an undercover nerd. I used to play computer games a lot and have even built a few computers in my time. If I was not a chef I would probably be working in IT.
- Your favourite dish?
This can change from week to week depending on the season and where I have been to lately. My current favourite dish on the Bella Vista Hotel menu is the 21 Day Dry Aged Tajima Wagyu Rump Cap with celeriac, caremlised onion and picked eshallots.