On the other side of the pass at Spicers Peak Lodge, head chef Dean Alsford will often catch a glimpse of a breathtaking sunset beyond the dining room and the terrace outside, and marvel at where his meandering journey as a chef has brought him. Alsford marvels at both the location and the restaurant theme he’s inherited here, The Best of Australia on a Plate.
Alsford is inspired by the Best of Australia theme. “It is something I am very passionate about,” he says, before launching into a list of his favourite recent finds. It includes Blue Mountains squab that he barbecues over coals and serves whole; and 9 score wagyu from Mayura Station, founded in 1845 in South Australia and supplying three Michelin-starred restaurants in Macau and Singapore.
At The Peak, the ‘best of’ ethos is taken multi-level – it’s about the produce, the people who grew it, the plates it’s served on and those serving it – as well as staying true to the ideals around Australian food. “We’re such a young country, with so many culinary influences, it’s only really in the last 10 years that we’ve had a defined cuisine,” Alsford says.
“It took a Scandinavian chef (Denmark’s Rene Redzepi) to come to Australia and highlight what we have and what we were not using. “As a chef, especially in regional Australia, it showed me that we need to be looking in our own backyard rather than overseas for incredible produce.”