Nestled in the verdant landscape of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Spicers Tamarind Retreat is a sanctuary from the sensory overload of modern life. An indulgent escape from the everyday, one sense that will be more than sated here is taste.
Applying his classic French culinary training to the abundant local produce and infusing the menu with the delicate nuances of different Asian cuisines, award-winning Executive Chef Daniel Jarrett is bringing the spice to onsite restaurant The Tamarind.
With 18 years in the industry, including a successful 15-month stint at his own hawker-style Asian restaurant, Junk in Maroochydore, and a previous head chef role at The Tamarind, Daniel returned to Spicers Tamarind Retreat in Maleny to take the helm as executive chef.
“I love The Tamarind, it’s a special place. It has beautiful surroundings that make it a pleasure to come to work,” Daniel says.
Living and working on the Sunshine Coast, Daniel says he loves having the best of both worlds with the hinterland and beaches in close proximity complemented by the idyllic Sunny Coast climate and local produce. The Tamarind team uses local providores, where possible, including cheesemakers and sourcing ingredients such as bamboo and eggs.
The Tamarind also employs sustainable practices in the kitchen, using fruit and vegetable scraps as compost in the onsite garden that nurtures kaffir limes, rose apples, pomelo and other fruits to be used in the restaurant and cook school.
These unique ingredients make their way into the carefully crafted dishes on The Tamarind’s inspired menu, which Daniel says changes constantly.
Some of the enticing offerings and Daniel’s current favourites include the prawn and veal sweetbread entree – cooked in the style of Korean chicken wings and coated in a sweet and spicy sauce, and the bang-bang chicken entree using local Peachester chicken with cucumber, bean sprouts, sesame, coriander, peanuts and the ‘strange’ flavour dressing.
Other must-try dishes at The Tamarind are the Japanese-style confit ocean salmon with ponzu, pickled ginger, miso, quinoa, furikake and wakame; and the braised pork belly entree with scallop toast, XO sauce, radish and celery salad.
The five-course Modern Asian Degustation is an ideal way to sample your way around the continent, as interpreted by The Tamarind.
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“Asia is filled with so many amazing cuisines, but whatever culture I am drawing from I like to understand the dish first and respect it as much as I can, then work on making it work in The Tamarind restaurant,” Daniel explains.
“The heart of The Tamarind is Thai, so we always make sure there are some Thai-inspired dishes and I love their flavour and techniques. I think being classically trained gives you a great understanding of the methods and principles of cookery, but there has been a lot of training involved to grasp Asian cuisines and I’m still learning.”
While achieving two Hats in the Brisbane Times Good Food Guide 2016 for The Tamarind is just one of his career highlights, Daniel says success to him is “a busy restaurant where you can hear the guests having a good time”.