A Matakana chef has beaten off competition from some of the country’s top cooking professionals to be named as one of five national Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ambassador Chefs for 2019.
Jarrod McGregor is head chef at Rothko, the restaurant at Sculptureum on Omaha Flats Road, and he was one of the highest rated chefs during the assessment of more than 170 restaurants judged as Beef + Lamb Excellence Award winners this year.
Beef + Lamb NZ food service manager Lisa Moloney says she believes Jarrod and the other four chefs are producing the best beef and lamb dishes in the country.
“This year’s ambassadors have been selected not just because they are fantastic chefs, they were identified because of their creativity, dedication and excitement for cooking with beef and lamb. This is the first time Jarrod has received the Beef + Lamb Excellence Award and he excelled to the point where he was invited to be a first-time Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chef for 2019,” she says.
“Their purpose is simple: to inspire a network of like-minded chefs to move forward, try something new and showcase what amazing creations are possible with beef and lamb.”
Jarrod’s winning dish was one from the current menu at Rothko, featuring Flaxbourne lamb rump, caramelised cauliflower and an umeboshi vinaigrette. Umeboshi are pickled ume, a sour Japanese fruit that is similar to a plum or apricot. Jarrod says they used and saved all parts from the pickling process, making ume-infused miso, umeboshi vinegar and the fruit itself, to make a vinaigrette that pairs perfectly with the richness of NZ lamb.
“It’s been our most popular dish lately,” he says. “We put it on at the start of December and it has been flying out of the door, so I’ll keep it on for a bit longer. I generally like to change the menu every six weeks or so, but sometimes you do get one dish that everyone loves and they’ll have a whinge if you take it off.”
Jarrod McGregor has led the kitchen team at Rothko since it opened two years ago.
He says being named as an ambassador chef is a great opportunity to help apprentice chefs by bringing them in to the Rothko kitchen and passing on his expertise.
“The big thing for me is to be able to give back to younger chefs,” he says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the chefs I worked under – teaching me what they know.”
Jarrod will be hosting a Beef + Lamb Ambassador Series Dinner at Rothko this winter, where he will work with one of 10 top chefs who are Platinum Ambassadors, or winners of Beef + Lamb’s lifetime achievement award. He will also be involved in cooking competitions and share some of his recipes on radio and TV.
Jarrod, who is 28, has been cooking professionally since he was 15 and has been head chef at Rothko since the restaurant at Sculptureum opened in April 2017. Prior to that, he was at Pilkingtons in Auckland’s Shortland Street. He lives in Orewa.