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Yes, Chef! with Jamie Yates

Yes, Chef! with Jamie Yates
Sophie Hansen
Sophie Hansen Orange, NSW
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Welcome to Yes, chef! A monthly newsletter in which food writer Sophie Hansen shines a light on our regional chefs. This week she talks with Tasmanian chef Jamie Yates.

There's this cafe on Brooke Street Pier that I head to like a honing pigeon every time I'm in Hobart (which isn't enough). It's called Rosie in My Midnight Dreams, and it's where—or rather how—I discovered this month's chef, Jamie Yates

It was June 2023, and I was in town for Dark Mofo festival, at the cafe having an excellent chicken pie for lunch. Through the glass wall at the front of the cafe I see this woman standing on the prow of a big red boat tied to the dock opposite. Like in the photos here (taken in June 2024), she was aproned up, a towel folded through the waist tie, waving to a stream of rugged up, fancy-dressed people crossing the gangplank onto this party boat of party boats. I could see a DJ through the lower deck portholes. It all looked very fun and very 'Tasmanian'.

It was Natty Waves, a floating pop-up with chef Jamie Yates in the bow/kitchen. Guests come on board for a three-hour cruise along the Derwent at twilight; dolphins often romp alongside the boat, and in the little kitchen down below you'll find our chef rolling out fresh pasta for her lasagne, dimpling focaccia, slicing charcuterie and plating up with olives for pass around entrees. And then, after service, maybe she'll jump on the decks to spin a tune or two.

I boarded the good ship Natty when back in Hobart a couple of weeks ago, Jamie and I talked about the magic of Tasmania, pop ups, lasagna toppers, her move earlier this year to Launceston or as she calls it, 'Tasmania's LA', and self care.

I hope you enjoy meeting Jamie Yates. And if you ever find yourself at Launceston/LA's Havilah bar or stepping onto the Natty Waves boat, count yourself lucky to be eating this very cool chef's good, fun, and loved-up food.

Sophie xx

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Yes, Chef! with Jamie Yates

Jamie cooking in her floating pop-up kitchen.

A recipe that takes you home?

“'Home' is an interesting concept to me. I've moved around a lot over the past decade, so home is an ever-changing idea and place. The first dish I ever cook in a new house is always Hainanese-influenced chicken rice. It's also the one dish I try to eat in every city I visit.”

A version of this recipe (see below) was featured in a 2021 pop-up restaurant Jamie ran in Sydney. “Everyone loved it. I think it's that classic comfort food factor. Plus, it's just so tasty.”

Jamie is big on pop-ups; I could have listened to her talk about them all day. Mostly because I agree wholeheartedly that temporary collaborations like these— bringing together lots of local talent into one cool offering—are such a great idea for anyone looking to cut their teeth in hospitality and build themselves a name in a regional town (especially) without taking out a large loan or putting everything on the line.

“I was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and I guess it makes sense now how much I love pop-up cooking. There's constant change and variation, no risk of getting stuck in a rut.

“During and after Covid, a lot of people lost their jobs. I lost mine in a Hobart wine bar called Sonny, and I had this reset—if I'm not that person working at that venue, then who am I? It turned into a cool and cute recalibration period. I began doing pop-ups, and then they just kept happening.

“I love how special these one-off collaborations are. You go into a place, and because it's temporary, there's a bit of a buzz around it. Getting people out of the house can be hard, especially when it's cold. But when it's this one pasta, this one night or week, people are more excited to come and not miss out.

“I also love the whole act of putting a pop-up team together. So, for example, at Rosie in My Midnight Dreams, when we do our Linguini Martini pop-up, our friend Lucy comes and DJs, Laurel does the bar, I make a poster and the food, and we just do this fun thing together. It's like an adult school project.”

Jamie recommends that anyone new to an area and/or the hospitality profession consider cooking up a pop-up: “Approach someone you admire and suggest something. They'll probably say yes! Find a venue, a winemaker, a graphic designer, a DJ, a producer and make it happen. It's a great way to experiment with what you enjoy cooking, what your flavours are, what you want to be known for, what works, and at the same time, help you make a name for yourself and find new friends.”

A recipe for joy (celebratory dish)

“It may be controversial for this category, but whenever I have friends over, I love to make lasagne. It's a sweet labour of love that everyone is always excited about. Last year, we had a party at my house, and I just put two serve-yourself lasagnes in the kitchen; who says lasagne can't be a canapé?”

Pasta is Jamie's first food love. Before moving into a career in food, she worked in Sydney in events and fashion but also cooked for friends most nights and shared her creations on Instagram. She started a series called '52 x pasta', sharing a different pasta dish every week, until her friends suggested enough times that she give a career in food an actual go. 

“I decided to start a cafe but first thought I should work in one, so with a bit of help from Donna Hay cookbooks—she was my gateway into cooking—I taught myself to cook. Then I started working in a small cafe in Redfern, Sydney, called Scout's Honour, and ended up running it for four years.

My boss said to me after a while, 'Jamie, you need to go to Tasmania and do the Agrarian Kitchen Cooking School', so I booked it for my birthday. We milked goats, made ricotta from the milk, picked zucchini flowers from the garden, stuffed them with the ricotta and fried them. The experience made me so emotional, I was so moved by it, I decided to move to Tasmania and never leave this magical place.” 

A recipe to bolster or soothe

“Chicken broth. I'm big on self-care, and making myself a big pot of broth has long been a part of that. It's how I soothe myself when life gets a bit busy.” Broth is also one of Jamie’s side-hustles.

“I'd been thinking about starting a side business for a while. Then one day, my friend Liana asked me to either make her some bone broth or show her how to do it. I said: 'What do you mean, babe? You roast some bones and put them in a pot of water; you've got this.' As a chef you take processes like this for granted. They're not second nature if they're not your every day. So I looked into making and selling my own and then just started.

“I have a strong dedication to self care—my friends know 'Jamie time' is my thing and it's important. Working in restaurants is fast-paced; you're constantly pumped full of cortisol, and it's full on. So when I have a night off, I want to go home and have a pho, do a face mask, watch a show and rest. We work hard, and we need to rest hard, too.”

Why did you choose to live and cook where you do?

“I cook at Havilah wine bar in Launceston, Tasmania. Or, as I like to call it, the LA of Tasmania. It is warmer here (than Hobart), and the sky feels bluer; it's less cloudy.

“I moved here at the beginning of this year and am loving the process of acquainting myself with a new town and new people, I'm pretty fascinated with the behavioural science of how different places eat.

“Launceston/LA is a small place; there are fewer options than Hobart, which means you notice things more. I also think there's a really strong sense of nostalgia in Launceston because it's so untouched; I see this in the food. Or maybe I'm manifesting it in the food I'm doing here. For example, we recently had a lasagne topper on the menu; you know that fried, crumbed square of 'the top of the lasagne' you often get in the bain marie of takeaway shops on the road? I wanted to do a nod to those naughty treats but make it a bit more fancy, so we served these little fried squares of fresh pasta and sugo on a bed of béchamel with basil oil, and people loved it.”

Jamie is big on taking old favourites and making them a bit more fun and modern. She's currently running Wallaby Bourguignon and previously had “Wallognese” on offer.

What's an ingredient you're excited about right now?

“Cavolo Nero is my favourite winter ingredient. Salads and soups, blanched and blitzed with garlic for a vibrant pasta sauce. It's simple and boring, if you will, but I love its versatility and knowing I'm getting a dense nutrient kick.” 

Jamie's braised chicken rice

“When I'm cooking at home, I'm a fan of a one-pot wonder; simple, tidy, humble. I've made so many iterations of this over the years, and it never gets old. I'm forever tailoring the spices to what's in the pantry.” 

Jamie's Hainanese-influenced chicken rice. Photograph by Sophie Hansen.

Feeds 4-6

Cooking time: 25-30 minutes


1 whole chicken, quartered

Salt and white pepper

2 diced onions or a bunch of spring onions, finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

2 cups jasmine rice


200 ml soy sauce

200 ml black vinegar

100 ml sesame oil

1 litre chicken broth


2 star anise

1 orange, halved

1/2 tbsp cumin seed

1/2 tbsp fennel seed

1/2 tbsp coriander seed 


To begin, season your chicken pieces with salt and white pepper, then sear in a crock pot. I like to do this on a medium/high heat until bronzed—more colour equals flavour. Set aside. 

Reduce the heat to medium and soften your garlic and onion in the chicken fatty goodness, add spices and toast until they smell good. Add rice and let everything all hang out, stirring for a few minutes De-glaze by pouring in all your sauces but the stock. 

Nestle your chicken pieces back into the pan of rice with the orange halves, skin side up. Pour over your stock and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and put the lid on for 15 minutes. Turn it off and let it rest for 5 minutes. Then it's done! 


I like to pop some leafy greens on top in the resting time, the residual heat will softly steam them. 

Leftovers make the greatest congee base.

Thank you for joining us for this month's Yes, Chef!

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