Shh, master at work in Jimmy Cook’s Kitchen

The Tribune (NZ) - - SAVOUR -

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.

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