Jarrett says his love for cooking started when his mum gave him information for chef internships. “I just didn’t enjoy school and my mum said if I was to leave, I needed to work. I enjoyed woodwork and cooking as I was working at McDonalds. Next minute, my mother had all this information about chefs’ apprenticeships. I jumped at the chance and really enjoyed it,” he said.
For most of his apprenticeship, Jarrett worked at French and Greek style restaurants. Asian cuisine was not on his radar until he joined the Spicers family, a chain of luxury dining and accommodation retreats located in Queensland and New South Wales. He said, “I got the call up to head The Tamarind kitchen as it was soon to open and I jumped at the chance to learn a new cuisine, got a quick lesson in Thai and have learnt the rest on my own. That was nine years ago and I love it.” This year was an exciting year for Jarrett as The Tamarind was awarded another prestigious Chef’s Hat by the Australian Good Food Guides. While this is an honour that most chefs dream about, for Jarrett, he cooks out of passion. “It is not why I do it, but it is always nice to be recognised. For the team who spends a lot of hours at work, it is nice to see their work recognised too.”
The Tamarind is a Thai restaurant which combines sweet, sour and spicy flavours. Reviews often praise everything from the balance of flavours in the food, to the wine list. While he keeps the menu mainly Thai inspired, Jarrett does incorporate other Asian flavours to bring more depth to the menu. He said, “The Tamarind is an Asian restaurant, born from a Thai heart. There will always be Thai dishes and influences on the menu, but through the years, I have branched out and really fallen in love with other Asian countries. The menu is a reflection of what I’m into at the moment; there is so much to learn.”
Jarrett is passionate about using local produce in his dishes and uses a wild variety of Queensland sourced ingredients. “Beautiful oyster mushrooms from five minutes down the road, Spanner crabs from Mooloolaba and some of the best fish, Spanish mackerel, coming from Bundaberg, I can say, some of the best fish I have ever eaten,” he said. Currently, Jarrett is continuing to learn about Asian culture and flavours to keep improving The Tamarind’s menu. When we spoke to him he was also particularly looking forward to the collaborative dinner at The Curated Plate festival in August, hosted by Donato Toce from Messina and Zaiyu Hasegawa from Den restaurant in Tokyo.