Winter is Coming to Noosa Cartel

Image source: Contributed

With the colder weather comes the craving for comfort food. Deb Caruso discovers a fuss-free way to feed the family that’s full of flavour!

When chef Josh Smallwood decided to leave the pressure-cooker environment of a busy restaurant kitchen behind, he knew he still wanted to create beautiful dishes that celebrated local produce. 

With an acute understanding of the challenges in preparing delicious and nutritious meals when you are time-poor, he and wife Danielle set about creating delicious, nutritious, restaurant-quality meals prepared and frozen fresh, ready to simply heat and eat at home.

Combining the fine dining skills honed over almost two decades and a love of locally-grown produce, they have created Noosa Cartel, a family-run business celebrating local and making life easier for a hungry and time-starved local community.

Most of our readers would remember Josh as the head chef of Ricky’s Riverfront Restaurant & Bar however his career began in Brisbane and quickly took him to Melbourne where he worked in Hatted restaurants such as Mecca, Grossi Florentino and Interlude until landing on his feet as head chef of Gary Mehigan’s Maribyrnong Boathouse for six years. 

In 2014 after starting his family, he and Danielle moved to her hometown of Noosa and after just one and a half years in the Ricky’s kitchen, Josh took the reigns as head chef. 

Thanks to Covid-19, the forced break from the frantic pace of the kitchen saw Josh reassess his future and decide to leave the restaurant industry to spend more time with his growing family. 

The simple premise behind Noosa Cartel is to provide a fast-food alternative that doesn’t sacrifice on flavour, nutrition or presentation. 

Thanks to Josh’s skills and love of local produce, he has created a range of restaurant-quality dishes that are as easy to prepare as they are to eat. In fact, all you need is a pot of boiling water and a hearty appetite.

We recently had to travel to Brisbane for the Baseball State Titles and Noosa Cartel was a lifesaver. It was a slice of heaven to come back to our  accommodation after a big day of Baseball and simply boil some water for a healthy, hearty and nutritious meal! 

So much better than eating out or cooking in.

The best thing was everyone got to choose their own dish: 13-year-old baseball star Max loves the Beef Bourguignon, hubby John can’t resist the Mooloolaba Prawn Laksa; and I relished the Honey Roasted Lamb Shoulder – and the fact that I didn’t have to cook after a long day of cheering.

In addition to the ready-to-eat meals, Josh has created a range of sauces that make it easy to recreate your favourite curries at home – or out of home – I’m thinking of wowing our friends at an upcoming camping trip! 

Josh and Danielle created Noosa Cartel to give the people of Noosa and beyond a chance to eat high quality meals in the comfort of their own home, without all the fuss. 

Join the Cartel and support this great family-owned business – you will never eat trashy takeaway or crappy camping food again!


Check out the new menu additions and specials for winter:

Eastwell Farms Goulash – grass fed beef, roasted peppers & potato

Elgin Valley Bali Chicken curry – cashews, potatoes & turmeric

Elgin Valley Chicken Cacciatore – Mushrooms, Roasted capsicum & green olives

Roasted pumpkin Chiang Mai curry – Snake beans, toasted peanuts & charred baby corn

Local seafood pie – Smoked reef fish, Mooloolaba prawns & Fraser Isle Spanner Crab



• 4 fillets local Snapper (150g-180g each), Mackerel or Swordfish are also options

• 150g snake beans or green beans

• 80g bamboo shoot slices (tin)

• 2 medium size zucchinis 

• 1 tub Noosa Cartel Thai Green Curry Sauce

• 3 tbsp vegetable oil

• 2 tbsp salt flakes

• Thai basil, coriander and sliced kaffir lime leaves to garnish


Cut zucchini into one-inch pieces and mix with 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil and half a 1tbsp of salt in a bowl. 

Pan fry zucchini in a hot fry pan until golden colour on sides. 

Drain onto paper towel, don’t worry if zucchini is slightly undercooked as it will finish cooking in the sauce later.

Trim beans down to 1-1½ inch pieces, removing any brown tips. 

Remove 80g of bamboo shoots from tin and rinse under cold water. Drain well and reserve for serving. 

Place the Noosa Cartel Thai Green Curry Sauce in a pot on medium heat, whisk once or twice to bring it together. 

Keep warm, don’t overboil the sauce as it will reduce and become too strong.  

Remove fish fillets from fridge and pat dry on paper towel. Lightly rub 1 tbsp oil and remaining salt on the fish so well covered. 

Heat a frypan large enough to fit the 4 fillets to a medium heat. 

Have a smaller frypan ready as a fish weight and a piece of grease proof paper cut into a circle to fit the large frypan. 

Add 1 tbsp oil to the pan and place the fillets skin side down into the pan. 

Working quickly, place the greaseproof paper onto the fillets, then the smaller frypan pushing down firmly to create a weight. Place something heavy onto the small frypan and leave for 2-3 minutes.  

Remove the small fry pan and keep cooking the fish skin side down for a further 2 minutes. This allows the skin to colour evenly without the fish curling.  

 Flip each fillet and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute to cook through. The fish should have a nice golden colour on the skin, if not, flip back over and keep cooking until desired colour is achieved. 

Remove fish from pan to a plate and leave skin side up.

Place sauce on high heat, once simmering turn down to low and add beans, bamboo shoots and zucchini. Bring to boil and remove from the heat.

Divide sauce and vegetables evenly in bowls, place a fish fillet carefully on top. 

Garnish with Thai basil, coriander leaves and thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and roti. Enjoy!

About the Author /

Deb has 25+ years' experience providing strategic communications and brand reputation advice to clients in the government, business and not-for-profit clients. She is passionate about Noosa and is an active member of her community, providing PR to Slow Food Noosa and other clients. Her passion lies in working with small businesses to help them succeed. She is planning to release the Tastes of Noosa cookbook with Matt Golinski in 2019.

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