Jacob Kear: The new head chef of Clooney shaking up Auckland’s food scene
Find out what Clooney’s new head chef, Jacob Kear, is bringing to the table.
How did you find yourself in New Zealand?
A chef named Giulio Sturla of Roots Restaurant, Lyttelton, found me on social media and liked the style and approach of the food I was doing, and saw similarities with his own style. We kicked it off and became friends. When the Noma Sydney pop-up opened, I had an extra ticket and asked if he wanted to go, and just like that, we met again!
We talked about doing a guest chef series at Roots. I’d never been to New Zealand but I fell in love with the land when I was in Lyttelton for a little over three weeks. It was a successful series – I asked René [Redzepi] for permission to do Noma’s famous ‘Ants on Shrimp’ which we made with live kōura (crayfish) and New Zealand ants. People loved it.
I went back to the States but really wanted to return to New Zealand. I contacted Clooney’s owner Tony Stewart and all is history from there.
How does heading Clooney’s kitchen compare to your other culinary adventures in top restaurants around the world?
It’s always a challenge to take over an existing restaurant, especially an iconic place like Clooney, but I like a good challenge. I always want to make a better kitchen as I believe in a perfect kitchen – this is what I’ve experienced overseas and this is the level I want Clooney’s kitchen to be at. It makes everyone’s job easier. The standard at Clooney is going to be the highest in New Zealand, that’s for sure, but it’s the normal standard in Japan and Copenhagen.