Sculpting the perfect dish

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Jarrod McGregor is the head chef at Rothko, the acclaimed restaurant at Sculptureum, in Matakana. The sea and the fertile land that surround the region inspire Jarrod’s culinary style.

Why did you become a chef?

I watched my father in the kitchen at home. Our house revolved around food and my old man's a great cook, Mum... defiantly not so much! My first job was as a kitchen hand in Gulf Harbour. I helped the chef and he gave me the number of an apprenticeship coordinator because I was, ‘too much of a natural’ to not take up cooking.

What’s your signature style or dish?

I tend to use a lot of fermented, pickled or wild foods in my cooking. I get bored easily, so no dish ever stays long enough to become my favourite! 

What’s the weirdest dish you have ever made?

You can't tell if something is or isn’t going to work by writing it on a piece of paper. You have to try it. Right now, I'm working on a two-month fermented plum sauce, for my coal-grilled eel. My philosophy is, the weirder the better.

What are the most common mistake amateurs make in the kitchen?

Not following recipes! They also forget to season. Here’s a tip; season everything!

What’s your favourite thing to eat?

I tend to gravitate towards simple food with great company. A BBQ on a summer’s day with friends and family is where it’s at for me.

Which country has the best traditional cooking style?

Traditional Maori Hangi from New Zealand of course! It’s my favourite flavour profile.

What’s your favourite ingredient?

Seasonal produce is by far the best ingredient, but I really love the texture and flavour of three-month fermented turnip!

What’s the best thing about the Matakana Coast?

It's beautiful and full of beautiful wild herbs and spices. Kawakawa, onion weed, and Samphire.

40 Omaha Flats Road, Matakana www.sculptureum.nz/rothko-restaurant

SavourEditorialRothko, Sluptureum