We recently caught up with our head chef Doug Opai to discuss cooking, ingredients, the new Coogee Bay Hotel menu, inspirations, life and more! Check out his great responses below.
What’s your favourite thing to make and eat at Coogee Bay Hotel?
It would be hard to go past our succulent 18 hour smoked beef short rib. Not only do I love preparing this one I love eating it too! We have sourced a fantastic cut of meat for this dish that is top grade – it’s always a pleasure to work with top quality ingredients and the amount of time and care that goes into this dish definitely makes it one of my favourite items on the Coogee Bay Hotel menu.
What inspires you? And what inspired you to become a chef?
I hail from family kitchens so I’ve basically lived in hospitality since day 1. I’ve spent some time educating myself in areas unrelated to cooking but at the end of the day the kitchen is where I am at my happiest and this really inspires me to better the food that I’m creating.
What are the three ingredients you couldn’t live without?
Butter, seafood and beer! Butter, because butter makes things better – I love the French style of cooking which has a strong focus on butter and I try and carry this across to a lot of my cooking. Seafood because I grew up near the coast and its part of my DNA. And beer… because look at my stomach!
How would you describe your personality in 3 words? and how does this help with being head chef at Coogee Bay Hotel?
Patient, Loyal and a Joker! I think being patient is a must as a head chef – you are dealing with so many different people of different backgrounds and different abilities on a daily basis and to truly get the best out of them you need to be patient. Loyalty is a massive one for me – we are all part of one big team here at CBH and as a team we need to stick together. And finally, a good sense of humour really helps you get through the day – Life shouldn’t be serious 100% of the time so I love being a bit of a joker.
What’s your favourite type of food and why?
Definitely fresh seafood. I was raised by the beach on an island nation (New Zealand) where the ocean provided most of our meals – it reminds me of my family and my upbringing and is practically part of my DNA.
What cooking methods do you love to use at Coogee Bay Hotel?
I’m a big fan of Sous Vide – It provides excellent consistency and speed of service which is really important at Coogee Bay Hotel. Sous Vide basically translates to cooking ‘under vacuum’ and it allows us to cook at a constant temperature the whole time which means we will never overcook or undercook our produce while using this method – it’s especially good for seafood as it ensures the fish stays moist and flavourful.
What’s something about you that not many people would know?
From rugby to boxing I really enjoy watching and playing full-contact sports. I also have 3 incredible kids – 2 of which are twins!
Who is your icon?
I probably have 2 icons. Firstly, my older brother who I’m super proud of and because he is a big part of the success I’ve had throughout all aspects of my life. And secondly, Ghengis Khan… because he took over the world of course!
Has your family influenced any of the dishes that are currently on the Coogee Bay Hotel menu?
My family taught me how to live off the land and how well nature takes care of everyone so I think I definitely bring bits and pieces of this knowledge into the Coogee Bay Hotel menu. But more specifically, the Velouté we use in our pie has been inspired by a special recipe we used while growing up. Also, I do have a little voice in my head telling me off when things aren’t right… It’s my grandfather’s voice.
We would also love it if you could share some insight into your background and achievements!
I’ve spent the last 20 years honing my craft in some amazing Australian venues, learning from passionate chefs in ‘hatted’ and ‘schoonered’ environments. In 2008 I was offered a role in an extreme volume bistro/gastro venue where my professional vision evolved into a wanting to provide a high-end dining experience whilst maintaining a comfortable level of spend for the masses. My attention to this initiative proved successful in 2014 when we were awarded some incredible accolades that we now proudly promote. I joined Coogee Bay Hotel as head chef in 2019 and look forward to continually evolving the menu and providing a great experience for all our guests.
Ready to experience some of the amazing meals from head chef Doug Opai and his team? Click below and book a table today!