A nudge from his mum and a burning desire to get out of Hamilton and head overseas pushed Mat McLean into the hospitality industry.
Looking at him now in his classy Hamilton restaurant Palate, a successful chef and polished professional, you would suspect a passion for food was fostered from an early age.
He left school with no particular direction in mind, took on various jobs, then did an electrical pre-apprenticeship. An accident put paid to taking it further.
“I was off work for a long time until mum gave me a bit of a prod and I started looking at courses at Waikato Polytechnic. I chose hospitality mainly because I wanted to travel.”