12 May 2013
Jo was born in Christchurch but moved north as a baby when her family decided to run a farm in the Hawke’s Bay. She trained as a nurse in Auckland and then continued her study in epidemiology in England. While she was there, Jo attended Le Cordon Bleu London, a world-renowned cooking school, and loved the experience so much that she went on to do more chef training at La Varenne, in Paris.
On her return to New Zealand, Jo became a charge nurse at the Princess Mary Hospital for Children in Auckland. Before long, she had decided she would make a career change and give cooking a go professionally. She opened a restaurant in Auckland called ‘Harleys’.
Frustrated by the lack of basic cooking skills in NZ communities, Jo started teaching cooking classes and decided they would be ideal for television. She proposed the idea to TVNZ in 1997 but was told that a cooking show would never be on prime time television. Soon after, when her first major recipe book, You Shouldn’t Have Gone To So Much Trouble, Darling, sold 40,000 copies, TVNZ was knocking on her door. She was soon in front of the camera and her show, Real Food for Real People ran for two seasons and was the highest rating programme they had ever had on TV One.
These days, Jo and her husband Ross run Seagars at Oxford, a café and cook school just outside of Christchurch. She has published more than ten recipe books and is the patron of Hospice New Zealand. She loves reading, listening to opera and fishing.