A passion for fine food

Chef Alex Fee
Chef Alex Fee

WALKING into the dining room at Pethers Rainforest Restaurant is a magical experience, even before you taste the food.

In the evening, fairy lights on the verandah create a waterfall effect  as you walk in.  During the day the dining room and verandah are framed by natural rainforest, providing a perfect backdrop for photography.

The pairing of this unique building’s architecture with Chef Alex Fee’s exquisite menu is a match made in foodie heaven. 

Alex began his culinary journey when he was only sixteen years old, undertaking his apprenticeship at the Hyatt Regency in Sanctuary Cove. 

It was an exceptional grounding in fine dining and led him to The Fireplace before going to the UK for several years.

His passion for fine food saw him continue his career with a Michelin Star restaurant in the UK where he perfected his skills.

Upon his return to Australia, he took a contract at Pethers.

“I was very lucky that they needed someone with fine dining experience and they put me up here,” he says.

“I was blown away by the aesthetics of this place. If you are used to living up here it might be different, but for me, it takes you.”  

“The building itself is stunning and of course the natural surroundings are incredible.”

When the contract finished he vowed if the opportunity arose again, he would return to Pethers.

In February this year he did just that, bringing his passion for fine food  and a vision.

Alex reviewed the menu, created new dishes and is establishing a kitchen garden to provide fresh garnishes and herbs for the exquisite dishes he creates.

“There’s two things I really want to do – locally sourced food is the big thing.”

Currently most of the produce is sourced within a 100 kilometre radius, but Alex would like to see more local produce on the menu.

“The second goal is growing our own herbs here and then growing more of our own ingredients.”

“We’ve got such a nature and wellness feel here. There is nothing that is holding us back.” 

Alex’s energy and enthusiasm for providing guests with a fine dining experience is palpable.

His long term aim is to share the region with guests through his menus. 

Developing the menu

Pethers’ menu will change during May in line with the cooler weather and Alex has been developing this for some time.

“I’ve conceptualised the menu and now I’m going to start playing with it.”

This process allows Alex to experiment with flavours and textures.

“I already know how a lot of the dishes are going to work but, for example, I wanted to do something with rhubarb because it grows well on the Mountain.”

He decided to make a cobbler featuring rhubarb, strawberry and spices.

“This is where the planning and playing comes in,” he says.

“I’ll make a macadamia crumble and a coconut crumble and see which works best.”

“When I’m creating a dish I’ll have a soft texture and a hard texture so the mouth has different feels – it’s all smell, taste and mouth feel, that is why we enjoy eating.”

About Keer Moriarty 20 Articles
Editor, journo, social media manager and tea lady with Canungra Times.