A highlight of our time back ‘home’ in Australia was getting to gourmet foodie weekend Great Barrier Feast at qualia on Hamilton Island with Chef Dan Hunter* for a story we were working on. Held periodically throughout the year on this tropical Queensland island in the Whitsundays group of 74 islands, the weekend of masterclasses with some of Australia’s best chefs at one of the country’s most luxurious boutique resorts is one of Australia’s best foodie experiences.
Two days of masterclasses with the chef and a gourmet degustation dinner prepared by the chef, can be punctuated by excursions to the Great Barrier Reef or simply lazing by the swimming pool. Bliss.
But for us it’s still work – albeit work that’s a whole lot of fun – and as the ‘official’ photographer was shooting the final dishes, I decided to sneak into the kitchen and interrupt Chef Dan Hunter of the Royal Mail Hotel and the team as they prepared this multi-course meal. This timelapse video is comprised of every shot from the night, the good, the badly out of focus, and the ugly kitchen lights that sometimes feed my poor camera some dodgy light.
A few things to note. Firstly, Dan is cool as a cucumber despite the number of plates coming out of the kitchen. Secondly, Dan is cool as a cucumber because he’s fanatical about preparation. While he told me that the dishes that night were slightly simplified versions of the cuisine he serves at the Royal Mail, note the use of an eyedropper and the individually portioned garnishes. Thirdly, note that at one stage every single flat – and not so flat – surface of the kitchen was covered in plates so Dan took over the foyer of the hotel as well for plating.
To get more of an idea of the kind of cuisine Dan creates, take a look at my post Monday Memories: Dan Hunter and the Delicious Dunkeld Dish. I photographed all of Dan’s dishes for the restaurant when we went to Dunkeld to spend time with the chef and sample his extraordinary cuisine for stories on Contemporary Australian Cuisine we were researching, and the chef’s dishes are just beautiful to photograph.
This weekend, Dan and another of our other favourite Aussie chefs Peter Gilmore of Quay restaurant in Sydney are sharing their secrets with foodies at Great Barrier Feast once again. For an insight into the experience, watch our video above and follow the chatter on Twitter by searching #gbfeast Bookmark this page for dates for the next event.
We’ve written a lot about Contemporary Australian Cuisine and Australian chefs on Grantourismo (see our posts under ‘Sydney‘ and ‘Melbourne‘, ‘Food and Wine‘, and ‘Eating Out’) and for magazines, and you can expect to see more longer features on the subject very soon in Four Seasons Magazine, European food magazine Sabor (download the first digital edition here), and other publications. Watch this space.
* UPDATE September 2013
Chef Dan Hunter has left the Royal Mail Hotel and is opening his own restaurant Brae at the end of 2013, in the beautiful Otways on the southwest coast of Victoria. See www.braerestaurant.com for more details and to make reservations or follow @BraeRestaurant and @ChefDanHunter on Twitter. We hope to share our experiences of Dan’s new restaurant here in the near future.