By all rights, Jesse Mctavish should be a surfboard shaper. Son of surfboard shaping pioneer, Bob Mctavish, it would only seem natural that he would take on the family business. But there was something about cooking and ingredients that intrigued him from an early age.
Jesse started his apprenticeship as a 15 year old at the iconic Beach Hotel in Byron Bay, and over 20 years later his love of ingredients and cooking is stronger than ever.
Honing his skills in Byron Bay before moving to Sydney in 2000, he drew technique and knowledge from talented chefs that crossed his path. With that knowledge and love for ingredients McTavish moved back to South East Queensland and opened his first business, a delicatessen.
It was after sourcing and selling incredible ingredients 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, McTavish set out to find the platform that would launch this idea.
Jesse met Nathan Toleman in late 2012 and it was clear that the new venture Top Paddock was that platform.
Setting a new standard for food and design, it won both the 2014 Eat Drink Design Award for Best Café Fit Out in Australia and The Age Newspaper Best New Café in 2013 and the following year, received Café of the year award for 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 has 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), Nomada (Melbourne) and Willo cafe (Kew, Vic) have all greatly benefited from the creative direction of Jesse’s food styling and menu design.
As of March 2018 he has been appointed Head Chef of North Bondi Fish in Bondi Beach, in Matt Morans Solotel group. Amid all this he still surfs 4 times per week, in between searching out ingredients, suppliers and inspiration on the adventure-filled Australian coastline.
Jesse is looking forward to his fourth visit to Flinders Island.