Meet the Chef: Jason Lee Cole, Tempus Katoomba

Tempus Katoomba is celebrating its first anniversary, its modern Australian menu with a focus on sustainability a welcome addition to Katoomba’s dining scene.

We chat to head chef and co-owner Jason Lee Cole about his culinary inspiration and ethos.

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By Julie Miller

How did you get involved in setting up Tempus?

I’ve always wanted to own my own restaurant; it was really the case of meeting the right people at the right time that shared my passion and dedication to making it work. Finally we found a space at the top end of Katoomba Street – originally a bank, a beautiful building but quite run down inside. But we saw its potential and were willing to put in the hard work – we built everything from scratch, from ripping down walls to building a brand new kitchen.

What is your background in restaurants?

I started my career in kitchens at 15, where I worked as a kitchen hand in an Italian restaurant in my home town of Swansea, Wales. I fell in love with the job and I worked my way up through the ranks. My first head chef job was in Chelsea, London where I spent five years and gained the opportunity to work with Greg Malouf, who I learnt so much from. After working my way over to Australia in 2016, I worked under Peter Doyle at EST in Sydney, who was incredibly inspiring.

What was your vision in designing the menu for Tempus?

I wanted seasonality and sustainability at the forefront of the menu, using as much local produce as I could find. I wanted a menu that was diverse and balanced at the same time, dishes that would complement each other and give our customers a great experience. Being able to create dishes through our unique local suppliers is thoroughly rewarding for me as a chef. 

How does sustainability impact your menu?

Sustainability means a lot to us at Tempus, personally and professionally. This passion translates onto the menu through how we pick our produce, to dealing with food waste. We dehydrate, powder, preserve and pickle excess food where possible, and I am always thinking of creative ways to create dishes where I utilise food that would usually be discarded. 

What can diners look forward to this Summer?

The produce that comes out of the Summer season is so vibrant and fresh – so diners can look forward to new dishes that celebrate the season. Now that we have been open for a year, and our roots are starting to grow. I have the opportunity to be more playful and experimental with my dishes. It’s an exciting time at Tempus.

66 Katoomba St, Katoomba; T: (02) 4760 8630; tempuskatoomba.com.au

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