Looking at him now in his classy Hamilton restaurant Palate, a successful chef and polished professional, you would suspect a passion for food was fostered from an early age.
He left school with no particular direction in mind, took on various jobs, then did an electrical pre-apprenticeship. An accident put paid to taking it further.
"I was off work for a long time until mum gave me a bit of a prod and I started looking at courses at Waikato Polytechnic. I chose hospitality mainly because I wanted to travel."
Front of house sounded ideal, beverage credentials would guarantee bar work overseas. "But I really enjoyed cheffing and got more and more into it. I liked the strategies and the teamwork, and I've always been a real night person – you need a lot of energy for that."
The course was well structured, and he took inspiration from outstanding tutors from all over the world.
"I couldn't boil water when I went to polytech. I remember cooking a roast when I was flatting in the early days and calling Mum and getting her to talk me through it.