Jai Dawson moved to Melbourne in 1996 leaving behind the bright lights of the Gold Coast where had spent the previous three years working in various restaurants and developing a keen interest in hospitality and in particular, wine.
Once in Melbourne, a chance encounter with an old friend landed him a job as the assistant sommelier at 'The Duck’ restaurant at the Crown Casino complex. Owned by the son of the original Dan Murphy, the restaurant carried a wine list with over a thousand labels and a level of training and knowledge that he had not seen before and so the seeds of Jai’s love affair with the wine industry had been planted.
Six years in Melbourne saw him gain further experience at some of the state’s best venues like the iconic Mietta’s and Langton’s where he worked alongside renowned chefs Philippe Mouchel and Jeremy Strode. Whilst at Radii @ The Park Hyatt he was also featured in an article for the ‘Age Epicure’ on Melbourne’s leading bar tenders.
2004 saw him make the move to Sydney and after a short stint at the famed Catalina’s restaurant in Rose Bay he took a move in a different direction, helping to open and run a small cafe in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. After only six months it was named in the top ten cafes in Sydney.
Again wanting to work closely with the wine industry, he sought the position of sommelier at the world famous 'Longrain Restaurant & Bar’, a venue that at the time carried two chef’s hats and was headed by Chef Martin Boetz and Sommelier Sam Christie. It was his six years at Longrain working alongside owner Sam that gave him the drive and insight to follow a career as a future restaurateur.
Moving to Canberra in 2008 and choosing a slightly different path as a boutique wine merchant, Jai quickly developed a strong relationship with many of his restaurant based clients and wine producers. The opportunity to operate the restaurant at Shaw Vineyard Estate was raised and Jai took it and now has an established events based restaurant in the beautiful Canberra wine region. Kate concentrates on running the events and caring for their young daughter, whom you will often see in the restaurant.
If you ask Jai what his favourite wine variety is he will say ''now or my all time favourite?'', he continues to answer ''now, it's Gruner Veltliner, the world's best grape variety I think is Reisling, but I find it tough to look past any wine from the Cote du Rhone region in France''.
Kate Dawson is a born and bred Canberran. Kate spent her younger years working in cafes and catering businesses around Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and a year in France, before following her dream to be involved in the airline industry. Kate studied a Bachelor of Business in Logistics Management in Melbourne where she met Jai in a restaurant they were both working at. During their courting they spent much time together exploring wine regions around Victoria and eating out in great restaurants and cafes. A common interest in food and wine is what sparked their relationship. Kate then landed her dream role after many years of hard work to work with Qantas Airways which required a move to Sydney. It is here in the role as Catering Manager Australiasia that she met many food producers, farmers, caterers and inspiring individuals and travelled around Australia and New Zealand and other parts of the world. After falling pregnant with their daughter, now 5, Kate moved on to work with a boutique cake company, Manna From Heaven that didn't require so much travelling! The desire to be close to family when raising their own young daughter influenced the move back to Canberra.
Kate opened her own recycled and handmade children's wear business which she ran for 3 years and assisted Jai on the side with events and wedding management for Flint. As the restaurant grew and the demand for weddings increased Kate closed her small business, moved from Canberra with Jai and their daugher to live in Murrumbateman and now works full time with the business. Kate is passionate about people, providing great and unique experiences and event management and marketing. Although Kate and Jai butt heads occasionally they make a great team and are really driven by giving their guests an environment to relax and enjoy food, wine, family and friends that is approachable and enjoyable!