Pilu at Freshwater chef to take over kitchen at Rae's on Wategos

The luxury beach-house aesthetic of the landmark Rae's on Wategos.
The luxury beach-house aesthetic of the landmark Rae's on Wategos. Photo: Sean Fennessy

Wondering what the hatted chefs of Sydney do when they are sick of the city? Have a peek up north.

Pilu at Freshwater head chef Jason Saxby is the latest with plans to check out of Sydney; he'll depart Freshwater on March 17 for the head chef role at Byron Bay landmark Rae's on Wategos.

Saxby, who also has Quay on his CV, joins a posse of northbound talent including veteran Matthew Kemp, Guillaume Zika​ (who had two chefs hats at Cottage Point Inn) and Alex Munoz (Cirrus) crowding the kitchens of northern NSW and southern Queensland.

Chef Jason Saxby is leaving Sydney for Rae's on Wategos.
Chef Jason Saxby is leaving Sydney for Rae's on Wategos.  Photo: Steven Siewert

Saxby wasn't just chasing a great job – last year on a family holiday at Byron Bay he bought a block of land in the area. "I thought I'd have to get a job up there doing avo on toast to start with. To land at Rae's is fantastic, they want me to cook Italian and Mediterranean, food that speaks to the local area," he says.

Pointing out he was one of the first chefs to serve kangaroo raw (at Russo & Russo), the chef wants to work closely with local Byron Bay producers.

Russo stresses he loved his time at Pilu, and is leaving the kitchen in the talented hands of rising star Federico Porceddu​. And while he'll miss the variety of Sydney food, he says he and his wife have "wanted to escape the rat race for a while now."

And if he wants a hit of Sydney cooking, there's no shortage of this from the Three Blue Ducks crew just up the road.