Meet Jess from New Zealand.
When you enter the restaurant Kai the first thing you see is a beautiful yellow dresser; reminiscent of dressers which were found in most Irish farm houses. The whole restaurant is a throw back to the ways of old. Nostalgic interior matched with nostalgic food. Then we meet Jess; her distinctive Kiwi accent still so strong and yet there is a Galway twang to any word with an R in it. Jess is full of energy and has a sharp, quick, dry wit. She has embraced the Irish ways with enthusiasm. There are no 'notions' at Kai and no one is going to get 'above their station'; regardless of the numerous awards donning the walls.
Having trained as a chef in the wine region of Eastern New Zealand. Jess left New Zealand at 21 and it was from here that her thirst for learning, exploring and creating food was allowed to grow. Time in Australia (where she met her husband Dave, from Carlow), then onto Europe before finally landing in Ireland. Dublin became home and Jess began working with Michelin star chef Kevin Thornton. After an intense and brilliant year in a fast paced kitchen, Failte Ireland ads of the magnificent west coast lured Jess and Dave to Galway. Now 11 years later they own and run, one of the most successful cafe/restaurants in the city.
When Jess cooks, she is always thinking of people, each dish she makes always represents someone she knows. The connection to food and all its components is obvious at Kai, the food here is accessible for absolutely everyone.
Jess loves the sense of community in the west end of Galway. She sources all of her food locally and purchases everything she needs from her neighbouring stores. As she buys all of her food from organic farmers her innovative menus reflect what is in season and can be sourced in Ireland. However Jess knows that locals are the 'bread and butter' of any business and she tries to ensure that they are always catered for.