Not everyone grows up with freshly-picked vegetables and herbs on their dinner plate every night.
But that was the reality for Atick Elahi, the new head chef of Club Catalina, whose mother was a mentor for him, before he started an apprenticeship at 17 years old.
"My mum was the best cook," Mr Elahi said.
"She used to cook every single day and every day it was something fresh.
"Nothing would go to the cool room or come from the fridge.
"We used to grow our own vegetables and we would use fresh turmeric, ginger, onion, garlic.
"That's why I fell in love with cooking."
As a teen, he found mentors at several Sydney restaurants.
At 26 years old, the Bondi chef was the group executive chef at the Zenith Hotel Group, based at Sydney, which owned five clubs, pubs and restaurants, including the Shoal Bay Country Club, near Port Stephens.
There, he used locally-sourced fish in his cooking.
Five years later, Mr Elahi said his move to Batemans Bay gave him the opportunity to source vegetables and seafood from farmers and fishers in the shire.
That included sea bream, whiting and tuna from Narooma, and Clyde River oysters.
"Last night I got a fish delivery at 12 o'clock at my house," he said.
"It's all about the freshness. You've got to make the product the hero.
"Find the fresh ingredients, do it very well but keep it simple."
Mr Elahi said he had a great team of six chefs, who all moved to Batemans Bay.
"I rely on them a lot. You've got to have good chefs," he said.
"My family is the kitchen."
He hoped to pass on the knowledge he gained over his 14 years' experience to local apprentices.
"I will hire the right people and train them the way I was trained," he said.
"When I was very young, someone gave me the chance to be in the kitchen, to hold the knife and learn skills, and I want to do the same. It's a give and take."
He wanted to connect with diners, and welcomed feedback.
"The most satisfying thing is when diners come to the kitchen and say, 'chef the food was great'," he said.
"I like to listen to what my diners say to me, and get constructive feedback."
The Cat Club restaurant reopened on July 1 when COVID-19 restrictions lifted.