Jeff has always had a passion for food, passed down from his parents having stints in clubs and pubs both here and in Australia. His experience in the industry started when he was 17 years old washing dishes at the Hungry Horse in Hamilton. From there he made the move to Auckland where he started his trade. The iconic Hammerheads restaurant was his first introduction to life as a chef in a fast paced well established kitchen. Next, he teamed up with senior chefs to enhance his techniques in ventures such as Iguacu in Parnell and Cin Cin in the city. He enjoyed his experiences in large restaurants, and from there it was time to refine his skills as a fine dine chef at Essence in Ponsonby underneath Michael James. After spending many years in the big smoke perfecting his culinary skills the opportunity arose to work as executive chef at 2 luxurious resorts in Vanuatu where he worked closely with the fresh local produce.
After 2 years he came back to NZ and worked in Wellington for the same successful group, helping to set up a new hotel venture. After 6 months he made the call to come home to Hamilton and to pursue the drive to one day open his own restaurant. Hamilton has always been home, it has everything going for it, and with friends and family and great locals he feels there is nowhere better to be. The Phoenix group stood out as the place to hone in on systems and procedures, after seeing the great success of their bars and restaurants.
After spending six years with the group, the time came to take the leap on his own. It was at this time that once popular Domaine Restaurant became available. The restaurant had great potential and Jeff enjoyed the huge challenge to get it performing better than ever as Domaine Eatery. He led the kitchen as well as often being the face out on the floor, with a strong passion for outstanding customer service, and of course sharing his knowledge of fine food and wine with his team and customers alike. During his time there he exceeded expectations with degustation dinners, cooking classes, out catering, weddings and special events. These experiences would lead him into another opportunity, although not straight away he knew he would come back to it.
Other successful ventures have followed –
Hospitality is Jeff’s passion, he lives and breathes cuisine and fine wine. He is also passionate about supporting local businesses, with purchasing produce and other business materials from the Waikato where he can.