Son of legendary surfboard designer, Bob McTavish, Jesse 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 over the past 25 years, he has worked for some of the most renowned restaurants and cafes in Australia.
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 the ethos and forming amazing relationships with farmers and suppliers, Jesse set out 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 Cafe Fit Out in Australia (2014), The Age Newspaper Best New Cafe (2013) and The Age Newspaper Cafe 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 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 collaborated and consulted for projects in the hospitality industry. The venues Revolver Coffee (Seminyak, Bali) Five Senses Coffee (Melbourne & Sydney), The Collins Quarter & The Fitzroy (Savannah, Georgia USA), and Sweet Poppy (Bangkok, Thailand) have all benefited from Jesse’s creative direction, food styling and menu design.
In 2018, Jesse was appointed Head Chef of Matt Moran’s iconic Bondi venue, North Bondi Fish. Jesse is now co-owner of Avalon’s newest addition, Bar Elvina, and also consults both in Australia and internationally for cafes and restaurant groups. Amid all this, Jesse still surfs and fishes locally, in between searching out ingredients, suppliers and inspiration on the adventure-filled Australian coastline