Exploring Australia’s Food Scene with Jeremy Bowell (a.k.a. “Taste Explorer”)

Blogger Jeremy Bowell gets serious in the kitchen.

Sydney-based blogger Jeremy Bowell knows a thing or two about the amazing food and drink that Australia has to offer – through his website, Taste Explorer, he’s wandered the country’s countless wineries and restaurants in search of the most delectable, mouth-watering fare to be had. The gourmand recently took the time to chat with us about Oz’s extensive food scene, his top restaurant picks and what it was like staying at the “best resort in the world”:

Your blog is all about enjoying culinary experiences. As someone based in Australia, how do you think the country’s cuisine stacks up compared to the rest of the world?

We’re really lucky in Australia to have some amazing, world class chefs and also an abundance of great produce. As a western country with such close proximity to Asia our cuisine appropriates the best of both worlds. We have chefs like Kylie Kwong (Billy Kwong, Sydney) who are fusing native Australian ingredients with traditional Chinese dishes. I think this fusion of cuisines is really exciting. Darren Templeman from Atelier in Glebe is another really talented chef doing amazing things with great produce. He’s one to watch.

In addition to food, your blog also looks at wine and craft beers – two things Australia has in spades. Any Aussie drops you’d recommend?

There’s some really great wine coming out of New South Wales at the moment. I’m loving the wines of Lark Hill, a small biodynamic winery near Canberra and also Thomas Wines from the Hunter Valley. Lark Hill does some amazing things with lesser known varieties such as Gruner Veltliner (a white variety originally from Austria) and Sangiovese (an Italian red variety). Thomas Wines produce exceptionally good Semillon (great with oysters) and some great medium bodied Shiraz.

The craft beer explosion that’s happening at the moment is really exciting. MV Beer Vale Ale from McLaren Vale is one of my go-to beers at the moment. Young Henry’s who brew in Newtown, Sydney are doing some great stuff too.

There are lots of Aussie shows that focus on food and cooking – My Kitchen Rules, Master Chef, The Great Australian Bake Off etc… What are your thoughts on these sorts of programs and do you have a favourite?

I think that any show that encourages people to get into the kitchen and cook with fresh ingredients is great. My guilty pleasure out of all the cooking shows would be Come Dine With Me Australia (Foxtel). Not so much for the cooking, but the fireworks!

What are the must-have items that are always stocked in your fridge?

There are a few essentials that you will always find in my fridge. Pepe Saya cultured butter, whatever goodies I pick up at the Eveleigh Growers Markets on Saturday and a bottle of wine for emergencies (most days are emergencies).

What are your favourite hotel restaurants?

Sydney has some great hotel restaurants. My top 3 are:

The Woods at the Four Seasons Sydney.

The Woods at The Four Seasons, Chef Hamish Ingham

Glass at The Hilton, Chef Luke Mangan

Cafe Opera at The Intercontinental, Chef Julien Pouteau

All three chefs are strong proponents of great artisan Australian produce and it shows in the amazing food that comes out of their kitchens.

You recently stayed at Qualia, one of Australia’s most acclaimed hotels. Would you say it’s deserving of all the rewards it receives? 

Quallia

Jeremy was recently lucky enough to enjoy a stay at the renowned Qualia Resort on Hamilton Island.

Absolutely! Qualia is one of the most incredible places I’ve ever stayed. The experience begins the moment you get off the plane where hotel staff give you a hot towel and collect your luggage from the carousel to deliver it straight to your pavilion. The check-in experience was a dream (it involved a glass of Champagne), and the accommodation and grounds are serene. 

You’re given a golf buggy for the weekend (the best way to get around the island) and lots of Champagne. Every last detail down to the Aesop amenities has been carefully considered.

The food by resident chef Alistair Waddell was exceptional. I’d stay there again in a heartbeat.  

What restaurants are still on your bucket list?

Attica in Melbourne is on my bucket list. Chef Ben Shewry is really pushing the envelope with his cooking and I’ve heard nothing but great things about that restaurant.

To follow Jeremy’s gourmet adventures, visit his website at www.tasteexplorer.com and follow him on Twitter @TasteExplorer.

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