Son of legendary surfboard designer, Bob McTavish, Jesse McTavish 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 he has worked for some of the most renowned restaurants and cafes in Australia.
Jesse is Owner and Head Chef of the iconic Dunes Palm Beach. Joining forces with Brett Conway (ex The Roots and Three Blue Ducks), the pair have transformed Dunes on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, featuring a menu drawing from Jesse’s coastal heritage with a focus on the best quality seasonal ingredients and provenance. The local sand dunes in Palm Beach offer a perfect place to forage ingredients that feature on the menu, including beach mustard, Warrigal greens and rambling dock.
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 this ethos and forming amazing relationships with farmers and suppliers, Jesse set out to find 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 Café Fit Out in Australia (2014), The Age Newspaper Best New Café (2013) and The Age Newspaper Café 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.
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.
Most recently, Jesse was Head Chef at North Bondi Fish where he delivered a fresh, creative and contemporary seafood menu.
Amid all this, Jesse still surfs four times per week, in between searching out ingredients, suppliers and inspiration on the adventure-filled Australian coastline.