"We're hoping for a whole tuna straight off the boat"
Catch Khan Danis and Dominic Mannel in the Betta Home Living Cooking Demonstration Marquee on Saturday, May 6.
A man with a love of long road trips and knack for opening fantastic restaurants, Khan Danis says his fondest kitchen moment came in 2006 when he brought fire into the kitchen to open Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar and Grill at Melbourne. It was a rare and wondrous way to cook, and a winning way to prepare the delectable dry aged beef these famous restaurants are so well known for.
Now enjoying a sea change as Head Chef at Bermagui Beach Hotel, Khan and Sous Chef Dominic Mannel are planning to prepare a whole locally caught tuna for this year’s Betta Home Living Cooking Demonstrations at Narooma Oyster Festival. It’s another accolade for the region which is fast (and at last) coming into it’s own as a destination for foodies and fine diners.
Khan’s 23 years at Rockpool began in 1989, after a decade long road trip to the top of Australia. His launch list is long, and includes Rockpool Perth, several sites Sydney a seafood restaurant in Wellington, New Zealand and Bondi Beach’s Totti, by Merivale. There’s also a pizza by the slice joint and a hamburger van with his son in the Southern Highlands!
“[My start at Rockpool] was one of the most exciting times for me as a cook, as I was being exposed to food that I had never experienced before,” he said.
“The greatest change in my career came in 2006 when I moved to Melbourne to help open Rockpool Bar and Grill at Crown.
“This was a totally new style of cooking and concept, where a live fire was our main source of heat and flavour. My memories of this time are probably the fondest as this was really the pinnacle of my career as a cook.”
In the winter of 2022 the opportunity arose to cook with superb South Coast seafood and produce, beside the sea in a grand old pub – The Bermagui Beach Hotel.
“I had always wanted to live on the south coast and currently I live in Wapengo, not far from the famous inlet where some of the greatest oysters are farmed,” Khan said.
“Using locally sourced seafood, vegetables and other produce, we run a pub menu and look to elevate the offering in the future.”
Bermagui Beach Hotel.
Chef Dom Mannel is another welcome addition to the offerings of the Far South Coast and like Khan, jumped at the opportunity to work with small local growers of the region. An Englishmen from the small town of Taunton in Somerset, Dom earned his stripes in London’s Petersham Nurseries under Joe Fox and Damian Clisby. Here, his appreciation for sourcing the best quality produce and treating it simply was discovered and honed.
In Australia, Dom brought his skills to hatted restaurants including Mimosa Wines just down the road from Narooma, Rosetta Ristorante (Melbourne) and The Recreation Bistro (Fitzroy, VIC).
Bermagui Beach Hotel was built in 1895 and offers dining, accommodation in the heart of Bermagui.