Son of legendary surfboard designer, Bob McTavish, Jesse grew up with a love of surfing, fishing and a deep respect for the ocean. There was something about cooking and ingredients that intrigued Jesse from an early age, and over the past 23 years, he has worked for some of the most renowned restaurants and cafes in Australia.
Jesse is Head Chef of North Bondi Fish in Bondi Beach and his love of ingredients and cooking is stronger than ever. Jesse is passionate about sourcing quality ingredients and building relationships with suppliers. He’s also a keen forager, and has been experimenting with ingredients he’s found in the Bondi Beach area, including sea rocket, which grows prolifically along the coastline and in the dunes and has a similar flavour to wasabi. It features in the “Prawn sanga”, which is served with sea rocket, pickles and mayo, and is destined to become a Noth Bondi Fish classic.
Jesse started his apprenticeship as a 15-year-old at the iconic Beach Hotel in Byron Bay where he honed his skills before moving to Sydney in 2000. Jesse drew technique and knowledge from talented chefs that crossed his path, and with that knowledge and love for ingredients, he moved back to South East Queensland and opened his first business, a delicatessen.
It was after sourcing and selling incredible ingredients that he saw a gap in the market: making the produce usually only found in fine dining restaurants accessible to everyone. After a few years developing the ethos and forming amazing relationships with farmers and suppliers, Jesse set out the platform that would launch this idea.
Top Paddock was that platform. Setting a new standard for food and design, it won the Eat Drink Design Award for Best Cafe Fit Out in Australia (2014), The Age Newspaper Best New Cafe (2013) and The Age Newspaper Cafe of the Year (2014). Jesse became the Executive Chef of the group and partner in the mid-2015 venture, The Kettle Black. The cafe went on to win the numerous awards for both design and its culinary offering. It continues to set trends and carve new ground in the Australian daytime dining scene.
Upon leaving the group Jesse collaborated and consulted for projects in the hospitality industry. The venues Pure South Dining (Melbourne), Revolver Coffee (Seminyak, Bali) Five Senses Coffee (Melbourne & Sydney), The Collins Quarter (Savannah, Georgia USA) and Willo Cafe (Kew, Vic ) all benefited from Jesse’s creative direction, food styling and menu design.
Amid all this, Jess still surfs four times per week, in between searching out ingredients, suppliers and inspiration on the adventure-filled Australian coastline