Chef Jesse McTavish - Furneaux Islands Festival
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Chef Jesse McTavish

By all rights, Jesse Mctavish should be a surfboard shaper. The 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.

He started his apprenticeship as a 15 year old in Byron Bay, and over 20 years later the 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 he moved back to SE 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, he set out to find the platform that would launch this idea.

Jesse met Nathan Toleman 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 in Australia and The Age Best New and 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. It continues to set trends and carve new ground in the Australian daytime dining scene. Since leaving the group he has found his creative drive through the ways he knows best, surfing, fishing and adventure! This has led him to consult on various projects locally and internationally with the same theme of exploration, adventure, surf stoke and discovering exciting wild ingredients.

Now running the hip ‘Nomada” a modern Melbourne cafe in Fitzroy, Jesse is looking forward to another visit to the Flinders Island.