Melbourne-born chef David Buckley is the new executive chef at the Eden Fishermen’s Recreation Club, lured here after hearing about Eden in a fishing yarn.
Mr Buckley spent the first 10 years of his career in the Melbourne CBD, taking on an apprenticeship at 16, but he prefers to work in small, coastal towns where the after-work lifestyle appeals.
More recently Mr Buckley has been working in Eastern Arnhem Land, on the east coast of the Gove Peninsula in Nhulunbuy, a town of around 4500 where half the population are Indigenous Australians and the main industry is mining.
He holds an advanced diploma in hospitality and an advanced assessment certificate but a career change to hospitality teaching several years ago was overcome by “an itch to get back into the kitchen”.
One of his first priorities in Eden is to find a good fish for the table. This week he has been experimenting with snapper.
“Every menu must have decent fish and chips so I want a fish that is economically feasible, available and tastes great,” he said.
Last Friday he and newly qualified chef Trudi Marrapodi and two first year apprentices Amy Kosseris and Derek Boehme experimented with snapper.
He’s also looking closely at the menu ahead of the busy whale season and summer period.
“I’d like to do something that perhaps some of the other places around here aren’t doing while still expecting to do up to 300 covers a day during the Christmas period,” he said.
“So it’s about creating the right menu and a capable team to get it done, to run some specials, and of course the seafood will be a prominent factor as well.
“It’s a young team but they are good, really keen to get on with it and ready to mould.
“Every day is different in the kitchen and every night there’s a bit of excitement especially with young guys around.”
Mr Buckley discovered fishing in the Northern Territory and has caught tuna and Spanish mackerel from a tinny he bought with a mate.
“A lot of the fish were too big to bring into the tinny,” he said.
“There’s nothing like doing that for your first attempt at fishing, it hooked me in.”