Tropical Queensland is Australia’s premier holiday state and it’s on trend with new restaurants and cooking schools flourishing. Just pack your apron and bikini and go!
Villa Cavour, a B&B on the Hervey Bay promontory of Point Vernon, only 50 metres from the Esplanade, offers cooking classes covering popular regional, traditional Italian recipes with a Piemonte (Italy) flavour courtesy of chef and owner Rocco Turina, a Piemonte native. After the class, enjoy a degustation dinner with wines imported directly from Piemonte and stay in the Queenslander-style B&B for the night.
Learn to cook with wild finger limes, lemon myrtle, warrigal greens, macadamia nuts, kangaroo meat, mints, peppers and bush tomatoes at Wild Lime Cooking School in the beautiful Lost World Valley, only 90 minutes drive south of Brisbane in the Scenic Rim. They have monthly classes where you’ll learn how to use Australian wild food in fusion with Asian or Mediterranean cuisine. Enjoy lunch with a glass of local wine and finish the weekend with a relaxed stay in an onsite cottage.
On the Sunshine Coast, you can take a European break at Spicers Clovelly Estate, Montville where chef Cameron Matthews offers French and Italian classes twice a month or jet off to Thailand with chef Paul Blain’s Thai cooking classes at Spicers Tamarind, Maleny. At both venues it’s hands-on cooking from 10am-2pm, then you dine on your banquet creations until 3pm with a glass of wine. Stay overnight in Spicers luxury.
Enjoy a cooking class around the wooden table at Freestyle Escapes Outdoor Kitchen with views of the orchard, herb garden and the rolling hills of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Local and interstate chefs host classes often using produce picked from onsite native and exotic trees which include lychees, longans, kumquats, pomegranates and grapes. Savour the fragrance of cloves, cinnamon, bay and kaffir lime leaves from the kitchen garden and see what tea, coffee and carob plants look like. Stay in luxury with two choices of accommodation – Freestyle Escape or Freestyle Arthouse.
Set on a working organic farm in Maleny, just an hour’s drive north of Brisbane, Fountainhead Organic Health Retreat offers cooking classes to guests who are staying at the property. The cooking school and the retreat’s information sessions focus on nutrition and health, and preparing foods that can be gluten, dairy, sugar and caffeine free.
Learn Thai cooking at Paula De Jersey’s Hot Wok Cooking School at Caloundra and stay at Monaco Resort, Bulcock Beach with a free pick-up and drop-off service. Budding chefs make six dishes with mostly organic and locally sourced produce in a Thai style pagoda overlooking rainforest and then enjoy the fruits of their labour over lunch and a glass of wine.
Join Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat’s ‘Nourish for Spring’ cooking and nutrition retreats from September 29– October 2. Resident chef, Hermann Schafellner, and well-known therapeutic chef and nutritionist, Samantha Gowing, will share new recipes and tips to help guests prepare healthy food options. Luxury accommodation available. www.gwinganna.com
The five Taste of the Tropics Food Trails, in Tropical North Queensland will take you on a sensory journey around the region to following food from the paddock to your lips.
The Mountain Tablelands Food Trail explores the high-altitude southern region where lush green pastures produce some of the creamiest dairy products in Australia. Visit Mungalli Creek (Bio-Dynamic) Dairy & Out Of The Whey Cheesery & Teahouse, Tarzali Lakes Smokehouse Café, Gallo Dairyland, Mount Uncle Distillery and more.This area is full of natural attractions and home to the Waterfall Circuit and Misty Mountains Trails around Millaa Millaa, Malanda, Atherton and Yungaburra.
The trail is accessible from either the Palmerston Highway from the south (Cassowary Coast), The Kennedy Highway from the North (Savannah Tablelands) or up the scenic Gillies Highway from Gordonvale, (just south of Cairns). For more info: www.tasteparadise.com.au
New Queensland restaurants:
Located on the Esplanade, Coast enjoys views across to the calm waters of Hervey Bay, where whale watching is popular. Head chef Nick Street-Brown (ex Urbane, Montrachet and Gianni’s) began work with Rick Stein at The Seafood Restaurant in Cornwall in the southern UK, and spent a year working with some of America’s most renowned chefs at the Thomas Keller’s three Michelin-starred Per Se. Pastry chef Krista Graham (ex e’cco bistro and Cha Cha Char) has also worked at Rick Stein’s The Seafood Restaurant and Per Se. The Coast menu is designed for sharing and features produce capturing the best of the Fraser Coast.
Malt Dining is a new three-level food, wine and dining experience located in Wenley House, Brisbane, which began its life as Queensland’s first municipal market in 1865. Headed by Nick Pinn (ex Glass Bar) and Laurie Rogencamp with executive chef Robert Campbell (ex Cru and Simpatico) Malt’s sunken dining room has a wall of windows and exudes rustic charm with a contemporary twist.
Organic Char in Eagle Street Pier opened late June. It is well-known Brisbane restaurateur John Kilroy’s latest 50-seat restaurant. Kilroy’s ‘MO’ is to take a fabulous ingredient and shine a spotlight on it – this time it’s produce ethically and responsibly grown, minus all the rubbish. The menu will feature everything from poultry and game, sustainable seafood, pork, lamb and beef as well as pulses and grains, crusty organic breads and, of course, great seasonal fruit and vegetables.
More info on Queensland travel: www.queenslandholidays.com.au/