by Rebecca Varidel, our Australian correspondent
Destination dining has never been more inviting. Luxury resort, qualia on Hamilton Island (in the Whitsunday Islands – off the coast of northern Queensland Australia) recently hosted the first of this year’s three Great Barrier Feasts. Gourmands travelled, from around Australia and internationally, to attend the intimate three-day soiree.
And the weekend delighted, with masterclasses by leading Chef Peter Gilmore of Quay restaurant Sydney (Quay is the only one of the Australian restaurants placed this year in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants), and culminated in a magnificent showpiece dinner. Gilmore flew a team with him from his Sydney restaurant kitchen to replicate a number of his beautiful signature dishes. Gilmore has been instrumental in Australia for changing the way we eat, and like Chef Serge Dansereau before him, raised the bar on the Aussie expectations of fresh produce. A keen home gardener and seed saver, Chef Peter Gilmore, introduces many varieties of heirloom vegetables into Australia from around the world. After testing the veggies in his home garden, he commissions small local farmers to grow the required quantities for his top restaurant.
Qualia Executive Chef Jane-Therese Mulry also delighted on the previous night, with a modern, imaginative and brave welcome dinner to start the weekend. Prior to her appointment at qualia, Mulry is perhaps best known as the first female head chef to be appointed by Chef Marco Pierre White. Chef Jane-Therese Mulry seeks out the best quality artisan and interesting local ingredients to create her own unique dishes across the resorts dining venues.
Transport between the guest pavilions, dining destinations, qualia spa and library, as well as the many other island recreational facilities is in itself entertaining, with guests driving themselves around on golf buggies.
While the feasting was just fabulous, the warm waters of private horizon plunge pools also enticed. Even in the midst of an Australian winter, swimming, sailing and other water sports were warm and tempting in the northern pristine waters of the Great Barrier Reef.