Kevin owned five restaurants in metropolitan Australia. He’d long reached the top of his game when his imagination set him on a new path. I got the impression his idea was to continue cooking, but for a clientele who would eat what they were given rather than catering to the whim and fashion of urban diners. He lives at the resort for 5 months of the year, heading back to Perth in the cyclone season but not before battening down everything that moves. All but the foundations and basic building structure are destroyed by cyclones sweeping in from the Timor Sea. JD stays behind and continues to shore up and rebuild as the weather calms. The season opens after Kevin returns from 5 months in the city. Now he advertises on the web for staff. Applications arrive from all round the world. From England to Ecuador, New Zealand to the Netherlands the young arrive to be trained in the chef business by a master. If this was Kevin’s entire story it would be impressive enough but he is a guide to every accessible corner worthy of attention in the area, from the site dated as the oldest recorded rock drawings in Australia, to clambering over boulders lodged in cliff faces that lead to rock swimming pools 20 metres beyond the reach of crocodiles. He takes us out fishing.
Every day we return to the cornerstone of his enterprise; a fabulous meal. The menu is a set one that encompasses the flavours of local seasonal food with the finest ingredients brought in from urban Australia. These are his signature dishes. The meat and fish are cooked outside over a pit of licking flame and glowing embers. Vegetables are cooked in the kitchen as are the sauces and jus.
Sarah is Kevin’s right-hand sous chef. By the time tourists arrive a team of cooks is trained to prep the set menu each evening. Hors d’ oeuvres are brought to the casual seating area where we gather each evening before taking our place at the long tables set for communal dining. The kitchen, open to the restaurant, provides a stage upon which the team perform a well-rehearsed dance at the end of each day. One dances around another to taste this, add a little shake of that which is replied to by a pirouette back stage left to save a tea towel on the way to the floor. Meanwhile Kevin moves gently back and forth washing and drying an assortment of used utensils and crockery.. A Van Morrison song drifts from unseen speakers. The performance ends with mouth-watering rack of lamb, a fillet of pork, or a catch of the day. A mouth-watering dessert arrives to conclude a fabulous meal.
After dinner, anyone not ready to stumble into bed or take a shower under the stars, sit around the embers left glowing in the fire pit to talk about photography, travel, the night sky, fishing – anything but politics; we left all that behind!