It is without doubt, Australians love road trips. They love leaving town during the long weekends and breaks, and there is no doubt, more and more restaurants that can be found outside your typical CBD locations. Spicers Tamarind retreat is located in the Sunshine Coast hinterlands, a 40 minute drive from the Sunshine Coast CBD. Nestled and surrounded by green hills and rainforests making it one of the most beautiful places to relax, dine and rejuvenate.
Heading one of the many restaurants at the retreat, is Sunshine coast born chef, Daniel Jarrett. During his 11 years as chef there, the Tamarind restaurant has obtained countless awards as well as a chef’s hat. Originally trained in French cuisine, he was shown the complexity and intensity of Thai cuisine by Chef Paul Blain who was not only the previous owner of The Tamarind but also an Alumni of Darley’s Street Thai in Sydney.
With a combination of 25 years in cooking French, Asian and Thai cuisine, Daniel Jarrett combines his knowledge of east-west techniques, along with the best produce in Australia. Queensland also produces the best South East Asian ingredients due to the warm climate, temperature and terrain.
– QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH DANIEL JARRETT–
1- How do you define the style and philosophy behind your restaurant, The Tamarind at Spicers Retreat?
For me, personally, I fell into Asian cookery when I opened The Tamarind, I read as much as I could to get an insight and knowledge around the cultures, especially Thai. I wanted to do the dishes justice and also, respect the cultures and countries that I am borrowing from. I am western trained so I like to mix with what I was taught with what I have learnt.
2- What will/should your diners expect when dining at the Tamarind at Spicers?
The Tamarind is located in Maleny on the Sunshine coast Hinterland in Queensland, set on 22 acres of rainforest surrounds. It is a relaxing environment, and with the food, we offer a 3 or 5 course option and encourage the guests to share a selection of dishes. For me, it is all about family style eating – sharing those punchy bold flavours backed with great service and a great drinks list in a beautiful setting.
3- When and how did you know you wanted to be a chef? Who and what inspired you to cook?
I do not have a romantic story or anything like that. For me, it was a way to get out of school and my mother asked me what subjects I enjoyed at school as I was not allowed to leave without a plan. I mentioned that I liked cooking for some reason and here I am, 26 years later. As soon I stepped into professional kitchens, I loved it!
4- Establishing a great relationship with your suppliers is crucial to ensuring seasonal and best quality ingredients delivered to your door. How are the relationships between you and your supplier?
Yes, they are important. We learn from each other and it also gives us the guest a connection. We can tell a story to our guests about the inspiration for a dish, for example.
4- Can you explain to us the creative process when planning a dish? From the point that it is in your head to finishing it on a plate.
For me, it comes from everywhere. From chefs I admire, to watching a mother or grandmother cooking on a tv show, or online. It could be a technique or a traditional dish. From there, I work out how it can be served in our restaurant and how I can put my spin on it. We collaborate as a team and work it out.
5- There are so many cuisines in the world, what made your dwell into the world of Thai cuisine?
To be honest, I feel into it. I had an offer to open the Tamarind, and at this point of time, I had no experience in Asian food. I was lucky that the general manager at the time was a chef and very experience in Thai food, having worked with David Thompson in the Darley Street Thai days. He passed on his knowledge, recipes and methods. For me, it was a great introduction especially for my palate and understanding how a dish should taste especially the flavour profiles and balance.
6- Have you got a mentor or figure that you particular admire/respect throughout your career as a chef?
I have lots of chefs that I admire, like some of the chefs you have on here. They are amazing and I definitely look up to these guys. Learning in western kitchens, I loved Marco, Gordon and Rene but I also a lot of Australian chefs. David Thompson was and is a huge inspiration, but these days, I respect so many.
7- Have you got any advice to chefs that are dwelling into Thai food?
For me, it is understanding the balance. Knowing the hot, sweet, salty and sour. Knowing how to control these punchy flavours and how it relates to different dishes as different dishes have different flavour profiles. Also, respecting and understanding their culture and the importance of rice.
8- Do your chefs at work share the same enthusiasm as you about the cuisine? How do you inspire your chefs day to day?
They would not be working at the Tamarind if they did not like it. They all generally have an interest in Asian but saying that, the Tamarind was born from a Thai heart and through the years, we draw on other Asian countries for inspiration as well, but it is me that drives the Thai element.
9- You have been in the undustry for quite some time, have you seen a shift in people’s perception to Thai or Asian food?
I have. Everyone seems to love Asian food, it suits our climate and we are blessed with the quality of ingredients we have at our doorstep. There is still that individual battle of “this is too spicy” or “this is too sweet” etc and trying to teach the importance of rice but Asian restaurants seem to be very popular.
10- Top 5 produce to work with
Seafood, vegetables, beef, pork, chicken and game.
11- Top 5 pantry ingredients
Fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce and koji… so many..
12- Favourite kitchen tool
A good knife
13- Where are your favourite restaurants to go to in Brisbane, Australia or anywhere in the word?
I don’t get much time. I love cooking over charcoal at home for the family on my days off. However, some of the best food I have eaten was from Martin Benn at Sepia and 10 William street – love that place and such great vibes.
14- What are the future plans for Daniel Jarrett and The Tamarind?
Hopefully, a kitchen and restaurant refurbishment, (laughs). But, for me, I would love to learn more about Thai food, there is so much to learn.
15- Can you share us a recipe for one of your dishes?
Hot and sour salad of prawns.
Hot and Sour Salad of Prawns
- 1 Coriander Root, medium
- 1 whole Birdseye Chilli, medium
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 20ml Lime Juice
- 20ml Fish Sauce
- Pinch sea salt
- 8 Medium Green Prawns, shelled with tail on, de-veined
- ¼ cup Coriander Leaves, loosely packed
- ¼ cup Mint Leaves, loosely packed
- ¼ cup Green Onion, finely sliced on a 3 cm long angle
- 1tbs Garlic Chives, cut 3cm
- 1tbs Red Shallots, sliced thinly lengthways
- 1tsp Lemongrass, finely sliced
- 1tsp Kaffir Lime Leaves, finely sliced
- ¼ tsp Ground Roasted Sticky Rice
- For the dressing, pound the coriander root, chilli and garlic in a mortar and pestle to a robust paste. Add lime juice then the fish sauce. Adjust to taste. It should be hot, sour and slightly salty. Reserve.
- For the Salad, in a pot of slow simmering water with the sea salt, plunge the peeled prawns for 1-1½ minutes (depending on size) or until cooked. Strain and allow to rest. If prawns are larger than bite sized, slice on an angle into bite sized pieces.
- In a bowl, combined the salad herbs. Add prawns to the side of herbs. Spoon the dressing over the prawns, then combine the prawns with the salad herbs.
- To serve, place in the centre of a plate. Sprinkle with roasted ground sticky rice.
- The stock keeps for 2-3 days in the refrigerator, or you can freeze it. Bring the stock to the boil before using.
– FURTHER INFORMATION –
CHEF: Daniel Jarrett
Spicers Tamarind Retreat
88 Obi Lane South, Maleny
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