Food has always been really big in my life. Surprisingly I didn’t actually break into the industry until I was 24–25. I always had a strong interest in food but I never pursued it. I did a lot of courses of interest when I was a kid, I was surrounded by it, but in my mind at the time I didn’t want to do this as a living because I thought it would ruin it for me. There was a lot of hopping from job to job. I was a web designer at one point. I was a horrible web designer… I worked odd jobs, and I was out of work for three months. But working with food was always in the back of my mind. There came a point where I just fell into it. It was always like circling the pool, but never wanting to jump in and go swimming. One day I dropped off my resume at Stratengers, and they gave me an interview the next day. As soon as I did it, I knew it was what I wanted to do.
I had the shittiest job. We washed our own dishes, I had to clean out grimy garbage areas, the worst jobs imaginable. But it’s where I cut my teeth. I remember it was a massive menu, kind of stupid actually. Curries, pizzas, wings. Fucking fajitas! But I remember a month after I started. I got in a cab home, and you know how cabbies are, talking and such. And he asked me: “So where you coming from, what do you do?” And I told him that I was a cook now. He said: “oh yeah? how do you like it?” And I said: “I fucking love it”.
But there’s a problem with people and food now. Today, our relationship with food… there’s a lot of love lost. It’s a bit like a booty call. People, especially in a bustling metropolis, don’t always appreciate food. They don’t plant any food, we don’t see where it comes from, and a lot of us don’t care. I think people need to start building more of relationship with food. I feel like it’s coming back a little bit. But it’s hard, especially when your relationship with food is so far away. And honestly, it’s hard to survive when the locally grown produce is more expensive than the stuff that is commercially created. I mean large companies streamline everything to make it cheaper, but that also destroys what we knew about food.
Everything that was a tomato isn’t really a tomato anymore. We have this idea of a tomato, this one tomato, because that’s what these companies create when they streamline. There could’ve been hundreds of different species of tomatoes before, but now we are reduced to only a few different kinds. And most of us only go to that one tomato that is our idea of the ideal tomato. I just think our relationship with food needs a lot of work still, but it’s coming through.
Jacob Taylor - Head Chef at The Wren