Being a lover of Italian food it was only natural I popped into Kobi Jacks in McCrae on one of our beautiful, balmy Mornington Peninsula summer nights. I was expecting to leave with a full belly of pasta, pizza and a little too much red wine- which happened, of course. What I wasn't expecting was to meet one of the most inspiring young men I have come across, leaving me feeling down right inspired. Working in real estate, a customer-service based industry, I meet people from all walks of life and of all ages every single day. Some of these people impact me so much that they leave an imprint in that busy little brain of mine- which is hard to say the least, because I can't explain to you enough how chaotic my train of thought can be. Kobi was definitely one of these people.
At the age of seventeen, Kobi- the founder of Kobi Jacks, is pursuing his passion of food, and sharing his talent with the community for all of us to enjoy- or eat, rather. To be so young, yet so determined and passionate is truly admirable. This love and drive shows through his absolutely mouth watering dishes, and shines through the unique dining experience offered at his restaurant. It really was a dinner and welcoming, local vibe I have not experienced anywhere else- ever.
BUT- enough of my dribble, hear it all from Kobi himself...
When did you discover your passion for food? Was there a particular person or experience that inspired you?
To be honest I’ve grown up around high quality food. My grandfather, Noel has a huge vegetable patch and as a kid, I used to eat raw asparagus and broad beans straight from the garden. I always used to collect and eat the fresh eggs too. There is something magical about food that fresh.
Growing up with parents who had cafes; I saw the hard slog and rewards of hospitality. I’ve always been passionate and loved food but it wasn’t until I got my first “real” job; aged 14, as a dishwasher at The Epicurean in Red Hill that I fell in love with the adrenaline and excitement behind a pumping restaurant kitchen.
Tell us how, who, why, you decided to leave school and pursue your passion?
For me to leave school was something that was criticised by many! Unfortunately the mainstream ideology is that all teenagers should finish year 12 and go to university. I’d always enjoyed school, had lots of mates and excelled academically. But learning to cook and playing cricket with fellow chefs between 12 hour split shifts in the Epicurean Car Park seamed a more realistic life journey to me.
What is your favourite dish to cook?
Kobi Jack’s being Italian inspired, I would have to say pizza or pasta.
What inspired the interior designing of your restaurant?
I always try to keep things pretty simple; Black and white and a not much clutter. Obviously this reflects in our simple fit out.
I noticed your menu heavily included local products- which I think is great. Why do you choose to remain local?
I’ve had incredible help and support from all the local producers I use! I’m really big on knowing where your foods coming from! I’m always picking/stealing asparagus, parsley and other things from my Grandfather’s garden! If you are using local produce it’s picked that day and I’m cooking with it and serving it that night. Where as say if I was to go buy something from a supermarket! I don’t know where its comes from and exactly how old it is!
What is your secret to the perfect pizza?
The love of what I do!
What has been the best experience since opening Kobi Jacks?
Creating a space where people can come and enjoy real food! I enjoy every aspect of making it. If it’s collecting my free range eggs from Robyn at Waterfall River Produce; in Coolart Road and making the fresh pasta with the eggs or the slow process of our 3 day naturally leavened pizza dough. I enjoy that my food is able to connect with people, family and friends! Food is a powerful medium; it effects people socially and emotionally. At Kobi Jack’s; our customers do a lot of celebrating! There is always a birthday, anniversary, work functions and we have even had a wedding proposal! Nothing beats the feeling and atmosphere of having a restaurant full of people enjoying food and wine with family and friends.
I tried your apple cake and it was absolutely delicious- do you make sweeter dishes too? What is your favourite?
Sicilian apple cake! It's a winner! We keep desserts pretty simple, add local fruit and a bit of love! That’s our secret!
What are your plans for Kobi Jacks- is there any exclusive news you would like to share with Peninsula Lifestyle Followers?
As I approach my 18th Birthday & being able to drive; 2018, I think will be my most exciting year so far. After Christmas I will be launching the Mornington Peninsula Pasta Company. A boutique pasta company, manufacturing fresh pasta right here on the peninsula! Influenced by the seasons and what the peninsula has on offer! Stay tuned for more details about were you can purchase it!
Being a young and successful business owner, what is your advice to individuals your age?
Start small! Dream Big!
I began Peninsula Lifestyle as a hub and medium to support local and small businesses here on the peninsula. It's people like Kobi and his beautiful restaurant that inspire me to continue to do this. Show your support by booking a table this summer and trying it for yourself.
See you soon, Kobi- there is still so much on your menu for me to try!
Written by Stephanie Bray