SheSociety had the opportunity to ask Jaimee Pickles a few questions about her lastest project with her husband Andrew, NAGA Thai.
Tell us about you and your background?
I started in the hospitality industry at 17. My first job was Lonestar Steakhouse – peanuts on the floor and line dancing. I had deferred from a Psychology degree, but when it was time to go back hospitality had just crept into my blood. I couldn’t imagine doing anything different. My first General Manager role was for Lonestar. I was the youngest GM they had ever had and the first female one at that. My first Operations role was with Wagamama, which is where Andrew and I actually met. It was a great company to work for and I had the opportunity to open 13 restaurants for them in Australia, and was involved in many openings in the UK and Europe, and one in my home country of New Zealand. We started our own restaurants around the time we started our family so I had to take a step back for a number of years. Now the kiddies are older it has been lovely getting back into the swing of things.
You are known as the husband and wife hospitality team. Tell us how many projects have you worked on with Andrew?
As I mentioned Andrew and I had worked together before which was a good foundation to start our own journey on. We had opened restaurants together and worked alongside of each other as General Managers. We are both aware of each other’s strengths and (his) weaknesses which makes working together now a lot easier. Work is always a discussion in our household. It’s a part of our relationship and who we are as a family. During the years of child rearing I was more behind the scenes in an HR capacity, but always felt involved and that my opinion was valued.. Our last two projects have given me a chance to be a lot more hands on and to be really involved in the process. I feel like I have got a piece of myself back again. The thrill of the game!
Brisbane designer Anna Spiro designed the interiors of the space, have you worked with Anna Spiro before? What was your brief for NAGA?
We have worked with Anna Spiro on a number of projects now. She interprets our ideas so well and we really trust her process. We have never been disappointed. Her brief for Naga was fun, colourful, a bit of a 60’s/70’s vibe. We gave her our moodboard of ideas and she just ran with it and I think the result speaks for itself. Her attention to detail is absolutely incredible – we just love her work!
What is your role at NAGA?
Operations support I guess you could say. We have had such a strong management team going into Naga it was such a pleasure to work alongside of them. I definitely take on the HR role, which involves the hiring of the new team which I always particularly enjoy. I’ll move more into a supporting role with Libertine, our other venue, now as we continue to work on other projects. And I would love to add Chief Cocktail Taster to my resume too.
What excites you about the hospitality industry?
I love how Brisbane’s Hospitality scene has evolved over the last 15 years. I opened a restaurant in the Valley around 2002 and it was hard to even get a decent coffee back then. When Libertine opened we were the first to do shared dining in Brisbane. Now Brisbane has places that rival the restaurant meccas of Australia. We have great names coming out of Brisbane and are being recognised worldwide. That really excites me.
What is your favourite cuisine and why?
I would have to say, Spanish Tapas would be my all time favourite. I love the idea of sharing food, small tastes of lots of dishes, eating with your hands, lots of beautiful wines and the atmosphere that goes along with these things. Plus the gorgeous flavours of course. And after years of watching Dora The Explorer I feel like I have a slight handle on their beautiful language too.
Now that cocktail list at NAGA. Love it. Who has the great sense of humour and who named the cocktails?
This is classic Andrew. He really missed his calling in marketing don’t you think! It’s like he mixed his two favourite things – Dad jokes and hospitality.
Quote to live by?
“Be Brave. Even if you are not, pretend. No one can tell the difference.”
What’s next? Any future projects in the works?
Absolutely!! I can’t say too much just yet though – but watch this space.
Lunch + Dinner | Wednesday – Sunday.
Bookings VIA website www.nagathai.com.au
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