What inspired my love of cooking? First and foremost, a love of eating!
Jess' Underground Kitchen started around my kitchen table. A friend made a flippant comment, whilst devouring one of my dinners, that she'd love to be able to pay me to cook her meals during the week. It seemed like an interesting challenge! We’ve come along way since JUK’s inaugural meal back in February 2013 (Thai green chicken curry, to be precise), when customers used to pick up from the pink house in Ponsonby. It all grew very organically, just by word of mouth. Proud friends would call me to say they’d caught their colleagues talking about this underground kitchen in the office, or overheard a conversation on the bus home. It was like a secret club - a delicious one at that.
It didn’t take long to realise that there was a gap in the market for freshly cooked, healthy convenience food. I never set out to fill it; I was just cooking the food I’d always cooked. My week night dinners, but for hundreds instead of one.
Today, it’s more of an overground kitchen! My first cookbook, My Underground Kitchen, was published in April 2015, and contains over 80 mouthwatering recipes for home cooks - including many of the meals that feature on the Underground Kitchen menu. My second cookbook, My Underground Deli, hit bookshelves in April 2017 and showcases 100 of our favourite recipes from the JUK delis. You can buy them both online, here!
In February 2016 I opened the doors to my flagship store - JUK Herne Bay. We serve up home cooking at its best - ready-to-heat meals, baking, seasonal salads and cabinet food, artisan deli goods and, of course, good coffee. Drop in and say hello!
We've also recently opened our second deli - JUK Remuera. On the corner of Bassett Road & Remuera Road, our light & breezy space is full of more Jess deliciousness and the home of our large production kitchen.