Springs Sensation with Chef Graham Waddell

Image source: Photographer Megan Gill

Chef Q&A with Executive Chef Graham Waddell at Relish Restaurant, Noosa Springs Golf and Spa Resort.

How / why did you become a chef?

Self defence from Mum’s cooking! Haha no! She is actually a great cook and inspired me to have a go from a young age. I left school at 15 and went straight into the kitchen and haven’t looked back.

What is the most rewarding moments?

Customers coming up to the pass and giving thanks, it never gets old.

What do you love about being a chef?

I really enjoy learning new techniques, trying new dishes and working with the team to layer flavours into a dish to come up with something exciting. 

Where did you grow up and how has that influenced your approach to cooking?

I grew up in sunny Scotland! Food here is a bit lighter; there it was more “stick to yer ribs” or “that’ll put hairs on yer chest” as my Mum would say as she dished up mashed spuds and stew. I still like to give generous portions though and you won’t leave my restaurant and get chips on the way home. When I first started cooking I was in a country house hotel we had pheasants and venison hanging in the cold room, fresh langoustines jumping out of boxes. I stayed on a farm a few fields away and it was a real eye opener to see first hand where food was grown. You appreciate the work that goes into producing good food and so nothing goes in the bin. Got spare bones? You’re making stock.

What’s your approach to food?

Simply use great produce, enhance it slightly and treat with respect. Don’t muck around with it too much or you end up with food that has no character. At the end of the day it’s all about food you want to eat.

What do you love about local produce? 

It’s great to support a local product from a producer who is passionate about what they do. There are so many around Noosa we are spoiled for choice. Noosa Chutney Co, Noosa Black Garlic and Peter from Noosa Reds are a few of my favourites.

Who would you love to cook for?

Anthony Bourdain would be there and for the drinks afterwards, Billy Connolly, Ricky Gervais and Kevin Bridges to crack me up; Paul Bocuse would write the menu and Dave Grohl on drums.

Who is your culinary inspirataion?

Marco Pierre White was on top of his game when I was starting out and I’ve always been inspired by his books particularly White Heat. I was lucky enough to work with some of the chefs in this book! I also really enjoy Fergus Henderson’s approach to food and  his epic book Nose to Tail.

Do you cook at home? 

Yes all the time, we love slow cooked family meals, Beef Bourguignon, Lamb Tagine, Coq au Vin.

What is your favourite dish to cook or eat?

Quenelles de Lyon are a real favourite of mine, traditionally made from pike, in a shellfish sauce. I’ve made them with snapper and marron here to good effect. I first tried them at Café de Federations in Lyon and since then I’ve been hooked.

What do you love about being in Noosa?

It’s a fantastic place for a chef to be close to such an array of awesome restaurants and food producers while being surrounded by beautiful beaches and hinterland. 

What’s on the menu at Noosa Springs?

Our most popular dishes at the moment are our 14-hour low and slow lamb shoulder served Greek style with local tomatoes, olives, feta and a crispy layered potato cake flavoured with oregano and lemon. Also our Steak frittes which is served with our chimmicurri, which is more of a Latin bearnaise, and fries topped with black garlic and parmesan.

We also do High Tea with tasty treats all made onsite and scones made with my Granny Pearl’s recipe, delicious!

What do you love about Noosa Springs?

The staff here are fantastic, it’s really friendly with happy people which is great. There’s plenty of creative freedom and the kitchen team go for a round of golf every week which is always great fun and keeps the groundkeeper busy with all the hacked up grass.

What do you do when not in the kitchen?

Hanging out with the family, going out for lunch, playing footy with my girls and beach days. 

If you weren’t a chef what would you be?

I think about that sometimes and can’t really put my finger on it, I love food and cooking and the hustle of kitchen life. Maybe an influencer? Haha 

Any advice for young chefs?

Work for a chef who is at the top of the game and learn as much as you can and don’t worry about money. 

What is your favourite kitchen tool?

Coming from Scotland there are smokehouses all over the place and it’s a flavour I really enjoy. A smoke gun is a handy tool to impart smokey flavours into dishes.

What is your favourite ingredient?

I have a lot of favourites: celeriac, kaffir lime, habaneros, Thai basil, to name a few. Whisky is also a favourite in dishes for curing fish, sauces for steak or desserts particularly chocolate. 

I have been really enjoying Rainbow Trout recently and it goes superbly with smokey flavours. 

*No live fish were harmed during this photoshoot

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