Grapevine Stories

A day in the Life of Jude Kereama

Jude Kereama is Executive Chef and owner of award winning Cornish restaurants Kota and Kota Kai, both in the most Southern port of the United Kingdom,Porthleven. Originally from New Zealand, Jude has lived in England for the last 27 years and has established himself as a stalwart of the Cornish food scene. Jude has competed four times on the Great British Menu, representing the South West of England. His last effort culminating in Jude cooking at the Banquet for Invention and Innovation in Great Britain.

A Day in the life of Jude Kereama


I get up at 6.30am every weekday morning, crawling out of bed no matter what state I am in to get my son ready for his day at college.  Living in Porthleven is pretty dreamy and I gaze outside onto Mounts Bay from Mousehole to the Lizard Point and think about how lucky I am to live here with that view.  I glug a much needed coffee and drink my first pint of water. Next I make Joe breakfast and a packed lunch and I drive him to his bus stop 15 minutes away.


After dropping Joe off, I either change into running, cycling, or tennis gear and go off and do a sport everyday.  Exercise is so important to help me with motivation and gives me a sense of well being and smugness.  It most importantly gives me the right to scoff as much food as I like which is one of the perks of the job.  Guilt free calories pass these lips all the time. Too many chefs are badly out of shape, and I for one believe I work better when fully fit and not carrying extra timber.

My girlfriend and I have a Hungarian VizsIa called Nala which gives us another reason to get out and exercise with her.  It takes a whole of lot of  running to tire her out.  

When I get back it is time for breakfast and I tend to eat light with some Organic whole grain toast from my favourite bakery Vicky’s Bread made a few miles down the road.  Or yoghurt, nuts, berries, and granola washed down with a couple more coffees and a pint of water.  This is also my chance to check all my emails and messages.


I then cycle five minutes down the road to the restaurants which are only 50 metres apart.  Tuesdays are management meetings and I will sit down with each team and discuss what happened the previous week, figures, feed backs, and come up with plans and ideas for the next couple of weeks. We will talk about new wine lists, new cocktails and everything that is changing with the seasons making sure that what is on offer on our seasonal menu is also reflected in our drinks offerings.  We will also discuss where we want to be next year and its a great way communicating with my teams and making sure that we are maximising our figures.  I will then tend to emails that need to be prioritised .   Today the emails that need my immediate attention is from a company who have a lot of wines from New Zealand and Australia that they are promoting.  My task is to come up with 15 recipes that match the wines and get the photos taken to go into there magazine that goes out with 14000 cases of wine and in pamphlets in everyone of their 200 stores.  I also have an email from a charity dinner that I am cooking at for 150 people to raise money for Air Ambulance Cornwall.  We do get asked a lot to do charity events and it can take up a lot of time.  I find it very rewarding to give support to those in need.  The biggest charity event I did last year was for 475 people.  Next year I have an event for 750 people in Bristol with the best chefs from the South West.  Lots of planning will have to go into these events and a lot of communication between as all to make this achievable.

I also have a column in a magazine and the Food Editor has sent the theme and questions to write about this coming month.

I will then have a bit of a snack with the team and will happily munch away all day if people put food in front of me.  I am quite famous for my huge appetite and my friends and family are always shaking their heads wondering where it all goes.


By 12.00 lunch service has started and I will go into the kitchens and chat to the chefs and check on their prep and have a taste of new dishes and ideas .  It is always fun being in the kitchen and I always love the buzz and camaraderie from the brigade.  We will talk about food trends and chat about where we have dined out recently.  We will also discuss what is coming up in the season, what food to forage right now, new fisherman that we should use.  We really do all live and breathe our jobs.  I feel blessed to truly love what I do and be able turn up to work with a smile on my face knowing I am going into work to have fun.


Cornwall is a wonderful county.  We are lucky to have some of the best producers in the UK around us.  We have organic farms that grow our seasonal vegetables, local line caught wild fish, incredible shellfish, and local lobster crab fisherman on our doorstep.  We also have the best butchers in the UK called Warrens here in the mighty county of Cornwall.  We also use a organic deer farm called  West Country Venison that don’t use any antibiotics and also have an abattoir/butchers on premises so the animals feel no stress during their time on the free range farm.  You can taste how happy they are and after a visit I have seen this first hand.   It is a real foodie haven.  On top of this, we use a lot of foraged goods that we either get ourselves, or from our local forager.


This gives me a chance to catch up for a one on one with my  Operations Manger.   We work really well together.  She will give me all the information I need and pass comments on performances of each team for quality, service, ambience, and figures.  She mostly has the answers herself but together we can make more of an informative decision on all matters.  She’s fab and understands how I like to run my restaurants and what direction we are heading towards for the future.

It is scary to think that I have been at Kota for 19 years, and Kai for 12 years. This had been the hot topic we have been discussing over the last couple of months.  How do we keep the restaurants fresh with new looks and new ideas.  We are in discussions to give each place a spruce up and a relaunch with something different and new, in each place. Watch this space!!!


I will leave to start cooking dinner at home for Joe. Unfortunately, since my late wife passed, I have been unable to work as many night shifts as I would like. I have preferred to focus on my son and make sure he is well cared for and has everything he needs. When something like that happens in your life , it puts everything else in perspective and makes you realise what is the most important things in life.  

Dinner is never fish fingers (nothing wrong with fish fingers, I just prefer to make them myself because I can) and everything is carefully thought out.  I always believe in cooking and eating a great meal for every meal.  Life is too short for shit food and it is a waste of calories. Always be happy with what you have cooked and people will taste the love.  Joe has his favourites but I keep every meal varied with different textures, proteins, and a rainbow of vegetables.  He has a very good palate for food and has been eating raw oysters and tartares from the age of 3 years old.


I will go pick up Joe from the bus stop and we will eat when we get home. If it is just the two of us, we tend to sit at the kitchen island and we will chat while I do the finishing touches to dinner.  I am hoping he is picking up some cooking tips for when he is a Uni Student.


After dinner we might have a tv chill time.  We both aren’t great tv watchers so we always try and pick a series that we might find inspirational and interesting.  We finally got around to watching The Last Dance which is about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls last season before they all spit up. Just amazing what they achieved.  Our new series is Beckham, which has been so brilliant and it was a reminder when Golden Balls was the least popular person in England after the 98 World Cup lost to Argentina.  He has been inspirational in how he redeemed himself after all the grief and hate that was directed at him. It also makes you realise how hard these celebrities work and how difficult it is to enjoy your privacy after you become famous.

That will be it for telly for the night until the news at 10.  Joe will disappear to do his study, and I will crack on with all the work I can’t fit into my normal working day.


This is a normally a naughty dessert time.  I think people are shocked when I tell them I would eat ice cream just about everyday or a pudding.  Joe will come down for a fleeting moment to come and join me.


I will sit and watch the news and learn about what is going on in the world.  It is particularly awful watching the news at the moment with what is going on in the Middle East.  It is sometimes easier to turn a blind eye to what is happening as the news is mostly bad news.  I will watch the weather and tinker off to my bedroom to shower.


I get into bed and start reading around 11 pm.  As always, I feel sleepy and within 5 minutes will turn off the light.  As soon as my head hits the pillow, I am out like the light I have just turned off.  

The next time you are in Cornwall, you must schedule in a visit to one of Jude's wonderful restaurants in Porthleven. Perfectly situated at the head of the harbour in Porthleven, Kota Kai enjoys uncompromised views over the inner port, the nationally recognisable Clock Tower and beyond to the swelling surf of the Atlantic. With the option to Eat and Sleep in our B&B rooms above Kota 50 yards away you could turn an evening out into a short break away and really embrace the charms of Porthleven. 

Grapevine is a trusted network of private members, linking kindred spirits from town or country. Members promote, sell or buy goods and services within the network.

Grapevine also believes in supporting young people to get a strong start through internships and work placements. We also help a number of charities including Heads Together and The Injured Jockeys Fund.