Jarrod McGregor was delighted to be appointed a Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chef for 2019 as he says it’s an opportunity to give back to the younger generation of chefs coming through into the industry. His own career was kick started at the tender age of fifteen when he took on a part time kitchen hand job at Degree in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour. A week later he had left school to begin an apprenticeship under the Restaurant Association’s watchful eye. Starting his career in such a busy kitchen taught Jarrod not only the basics, but how to work at speed, so it’s no wonder he has achieved so much in such a short space of time. Jarrod developed a real passion for his trade and went on to work under some of New Zealand’s most outstanding chefs, finishing his apprenticeship under Jason Blackie at Sails Restaurant.
It’s no surprise then that Jarrod has now catapulted his career to become head chef at one of Auckland’s most stunning dining destinations, Rothko at The Sculptureum. Jarrod says it’s a total change from working in a city restaurant and he loves the beautiful work environment surrounded by The Sculptureum’s 10 hectares of rolling green land. There is plenty of scope for home grown produce from the gardens to use in his dishes and with a local farmer just down the road supplying fresh ingredients year-round, he is continually inspired by the fresh seasonal produce available to him.
Jarrod’s love of food was triggered from his early childhood years sitting in the kitchen watching his father cook. He fondly remembers the delicious beef stew with dumplings and lamb broth that his Dad used to make. Working with food is a lifestyle for Jarrod with ideas for his dishes popping into his head, but staying mindful of keeping to his philosophy of simple dishes. He likes to work with only four flavours on the plate and when it comes to New Zealand beef and lamb he says these are the perfect vehicle to take on the international flavours that inspire him.
His dish of Flaxbourne lamb with caramelised cauliflower and umeboshi was inspired by a Japanese staff member who taught Jarrod the technique of making umeboshi. With the punchy flavour of the umeboshi cutting through the richness of the lamb and the velvety smooth cauliflower puree with its caramelised flavours, this dish has the wow factor! For visitors who make the journey to The Sculptureum, they can indulge not only in a visual feast of outstanding artwork, but they can sit down to a culinary feast of art on a plate, which makes Rothko a dining destination you will want to put on your bucket list!