Shh, master at work in Jimmy Cook’s Kitchen
Jono Mawley is a chef, not a cook.
There’s a world of difference between heating a pre-made product and serving a dish that’s been prepared using only the raw ingredients.
Jono, executive chef at Copthorne Hotel in Palmerston North, is a chef who has a love and passion for food, is intense in preparing it, and is proud of how it comes together on the plate.
Jimmy Cook’s Kiwi Kitchen at the Copthorne Hotel is Mawley’s restaurant. There he takes the basic ingredients and mixes in the additional flavours that have been prepared and handcrafted in his kitchen.
He ensures the dishes he creates are unique because of his preparation and the sauces, mayonnaises and seasonings he uses to make them distinctive. For example the black garlic, which is a trademark of Jimmy’s, is bought, vacuum-packed and gently cooked at a low heat for 70 days which allows it to undergo a fermentation process. When it’s matured it’s a food by itself.
‘‘It has a wonderful, sweet flavour,’’ Jono says.
‘‘I want to create something in every meal that guests are not going to get anywhere else.’’
Since the Copthorne Hotel completed its $4.3 million refurbishment in June 2014, and reopened its restaurant as Jimmy Cook’s Kiwi Kitchen, Jono and his team have been preparing dishes for a diverse group of guests.
Some are corporate travellers with a range of homely and exotic tastes, some are tourists who’ve dined out in other parts of New Zealand and the world, and a growing number are locals who have listened to word of mouth and are regulars at Jimmy’s.
Jono and apprentice chef Peter Dann know to provide a mixture of home style and upmarket food but always stamped with the distinctive taste they bring to each dish.
‘‘We push the boundaries, especially at the high end of our food,’’ Jono explains.
Since training at Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua, he has worked in Wellington, Hawke’s Bay and Brisbane but, for the last 12 years, Jono has been based in Palmerston North, applying his experience and skill in restaurants such as Bethanys, Barista and Bathhouse.
As a result he has an intimate knowledge of the region, where the food is and what the clientele want.
‘‘Getting to know the Palmerston North market was a huge advantage when I came to the Copthorne Hotel,’’ he says.
Jimmy Cooks (aka Captain James Cook) also identifies with traditional, quality New Zealand food, the farm food of the 70s and 80s that Kiwis grew up with. To that philosophy, Jono adds his unique point of difference to the dishes and menu.
For example he embellishes his red wine braised lamb shank with potato puree, kale, spinach and brocollini in butter and a trio of lentils in red wine jus while his crispy skin pork belly is accompanied by dauphinoise potato, pickled radish salad, dried apple, toasted pistachio dust and an apple and maple syrup plum compote.
General manager Carey Lister says local diners have doubled in the last 12 months.
‘‘We’ve put a lot of work into our local market. We want to inspire trust, we want people to recommend us, and we want our reputation to be based on person to person communication not just good sales techniques,’’ Carey says.
Jimmy Cook’s Kiwi Kitchen is open for breakfast and dinner, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Reservations are preferred but not essential.
Jono Mawley, executive chef at his Jimmy Cook’s Kiwi Kitchen restaurant at Copthorne Hotel in Palmerston North.