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Jem Jacinto

He’s the man who brought us Finn Poke at Pacific Fair just a few short months ago and this week, Jem Jacinto will open a second venue in Burleigh Heads.

We sat down for a chat with Jem about his Hawaiian roots (where poke bowls were invented) and how Finn Pokes’ chef driven concept means next-level poke bowls for the Gold Coast.

What do you love most about the Gold Coast?
First and foremost, the coastline and the beach, it reminds us a lot of where we’re from in the States (LA and Hawaii) and the people are great. It’s a healthy vibe here and it really suits what we’re trying to offer.

Tell us how Finn Poke came about?
My Mum and sister are based on the Gold Coast and I’ve always wanted to bring the family dynamic closer together. I love food, I have roots in Hawaii and what I know best is food. The poke was a no brainer because there wasn’t much established here at that point, about a year ago. We were in Byron for the week on vacation and saw a ‘for lease’ sign and thought let’s do it. Within two or three months we had our first store open and now here we are with the Pacific Fair and Burleigh stores.

What’s your food background?
I’ve been involved in the hospitality industry for about ten years now. My brother in law founded Fig and Olive in the US, which grew into a multi-unit brand with stores from New York to LA and I was there to help him build the stores and I got involved in the business side of things. Last year Fig and Olive sold and we opened Farmhouse so I’ve been involved in the industry for a long time. Fast casual is really where it’s at and that’s what we’re doing with Finn Poke.

What’s unique about your poke bowls?
We’re not your typical poke bowl we’re more of a premium offering without the extra price tag. We’re a chef driven concept and we source super high quality ingredients directly from the producers. We focus on that so we can provide the best value and quality. When you build your own bowl, we balance it for you to make sure you have the right amount of sauce, crunch and all the ingredients. That way you have a perfectly balanced bowl and that’s probably the most important factor. Our chefs make the bowl for you and ensure it’s perfect. It’s important to us to be a sustainable business too. We take from the ocean so we need to give back and be responsible. All our tuna is wild, line caught in Queensland and NSW. All the salmon here is farmed so we’ve chosen a farm that is certified, sustainable and has good practices. Our packaging is 99% reusable, plastic free and biodegradable.

You’ve opened in Pacific Fair and now Burleigh, why those locations?
Pacific Fair is such a prominent development in the Gold Coast, it’s been here for so many years, I remember when it was still new and it was such a formidable shopping centre back then. They recently spent a lot of money rejuvenating it and creating a great dynamic. I believe it’s really the shopping core of the Gold Coast so we thought it’d be great for awareness of our brand. Burleigh is just such a cool place; it’s really aligned with our vibe. You can grab a bowl and sit on the hill and feel good while eating a healthy meal. 

What else do you have on for 2018?
We’d like to get settled on the Gold Coast and then spread the poke love all the way up north. We always want to improve the brand and grow our offering too. I’ve got a few great recipes up my sleeve that I’ll launch for the summer including something that’s only found on the big island in Hawaii, I haven’t seen it anywhere else. It’s a poke recipe that’s vegan friendly and it’s really delicious.

What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Enjoy your family.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast:
Beach:
Burleigh
Restaurant: Finn Poke
How does your weekend usually look? At the moment, work but I usually spend my time in Byron with my family.

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