Chefs of Surfers Paradise – Paul Wackrow

Want to meet the people behind your best restaurant meals? The Surfers Paradise Alliance has come up with the fantastic idea of showcasing the best chefs of the area in a monthly cook-off on the beach. It takes the form of a cooking demonstration and tasting of one main course dish from the chef of the month. Held out in the open air near the beach end of Cavill Avenue, with surf gently rolling in behind the stage, tourists and swimmers strolling up from the surf, it’s a setting worthy of its own TV series. If you love food as much as we do, it’s a fantastic way to sample the Gold Coast’s culinary style, or to chat to the chef firsthand. We’ll feature each chef as they present, together with their shared recipe in this column, but why not come and enjoy the experience with us on the Surfers Paradise Foreshore. Check the Surfers Paradise Alliance’s website for more information.

Paul Wackrow 2 Executive Chef Paul Wackrow(August 2012)

Hotel Grand Chancellor , Surfers Paradise Blvd & Hanlon St, Surfers Paradise, Queensland 4217 Ph: 07 5579 3499

It’s a sunny winter’s day with bright skies and gently rolling surf, so it’s fitting that Paul Wackrow, Executive Chef of the Hotel Grand Chancellor has decided to show us his Winter Salad of Roasted Pork Belly with Root Vegetables and Spiced Apple Relish – perfect for communal dining with friends or an extended family lunch.

The dish brings to our palates a mixture of traditional and modern flavours, touches of East and West, so I ask Paul where his influences originated.

Paul: “Although I was born in New Zealand, I grew up in Singapore in the ‘70s, so I had quite a diverse culinary experience. Everything was right there – the complex fragrant aromas from local food stalls, the twice daily trips to the markets to buy the freshest ingredients, the ability to go behind the shop fronts to see how food was cooked.  Food filled your senses. That’s where I gained my passion for food. I decided when I was young that I wanted to be a chef, and followed that goal through from about Year 7.”

Following his apprenticeship, Paul worked in Kooralbyn, before travelling Australia – Broome, Adelaide and Perth – gaining experience managing five star restaurants before returning to Queensland. Now the Executive Chef of the Hotel Grand Chancellor, we ask Paul to describe the dining experience of signature restaurant Rez252.

Paul: “Rez252 is a casual dining restaurant which has traditionally catered for hotel guests, including families. There’s something for everyone on the menu. We serve good honest food; not pretentious. The exciting news for us is that the restaurant is being refurbished next month. We’ll be changing menus and rebranding, increasing marketing to a wider audience outside the hotel. So you’ll have to come along and have a look!”

We chat about food in various parts of the world, how certain produce excels in different regions, and the difficulty of producing exactly the same tastes in Australian kitchens because of the difference in produce (variations dependant on soil variance, rainfall, lushness of vegetation, and plant varieties…to name a few). So even if you cook the same recipe from the same ingredients sourced in a different country, the dish can taste different.

Paul: “I take ideas from lots of chefs and cuisines and adapt them to my own style, to make a creation of my own. Most of all, though, I share the passion for food that’s evident in so many cultures. I have a passion for the job. I love being in the kitchen and I love eating!”  he chuckles.

So do we! So here’s the recipe for Paul’s dish of the day. He made it look so easy that I’m sure I could cook it at home –  a quick fry here, the casual placing of ingredients on the plate and the scattering of garnish on top of the meat…

The dish tasted absolutely delicious – the richness of pork with a crunchy crust, balanced by the apple relish and lightened by the fresh salad. Sample more of Paul’s delicious food at The Grand Chancellor, or try cooking it at home. Enjoy!

Paul Wackrow 3 Winter salad of roasted pork belly, root vegetables & spiced apple relish

Pork

1 pork belly – salted over night then wiped dry & boiled water poured over to tighten skin. Oil & salt again. 250 deg oven for 30 mins. 160 deg for 1 hour. Rest for 15 mins.

Apple relish

6 granny smith apples – peeled and diced

1 onion – diced finely

1 small knob ginger – grated

½ large chilli – diced finely

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup sushi vinegar

½ tspn pepper

½ tspn sea salt

Sweat onions, ginger, chilli then add all other ingredients, cook on low till all liquid has cooked out.

Vegetables

1 large sweet potato – cooked in its skin; 3 red onions, 2 Swedes, 3 carrots

Roughly cut up all veg to a similar size, toss with oil & roast till done. Wash 2 baby coz hearts.

Plate up

Cut pork into chunks and break up crackling, arrange everything on a large sharing platter & dot with Danish feta & relish. Finish with some olive oil & rocket.

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