Dylan Cashman, chef and restaurant owner

The Gold Coast is one of the of the best places in Australia for produce, it deadset has everything that you could need, and I think we need to see that start to shine ...

For chef Dylan Cashman, food is life. After doing his time down south in the renowned kitchens of Fins and Paper Daisy, the Kempsey-born chef opened his first restaurant here on the Gold Coast – The Blue Door on 5th in Palm Beach. Since it opened in March, Dylan has been turning heads with his refined and ever-changing menu, which is heavily driven by his philosophy of using locally grown produce in sustainable ways. He’s a passionate fella, who wants to bring diners back to ‘earth’ and connect them with REAL food. We caught up with Dylan as he was preparing for another day in his kitchen, to chat about sustainable kitchens and bringing the connection with food back to the Gold Coast.

What’s your earliest memory of food?
Burning my hand on a little skillet, trying to pick up a piece of carrot from underneath it. It gave me a scar on my left hand … and that was how I could always left my left from my right when I was growing up! My godfather is a Maori chef, so I remember cooking a hangi with him in our backyard in Sydney, and getting pippis at the beach so he could make us pippi omelettes.

How would you sum up your philosophy on food?
It’s hard to sum it up, but I think it’s more along the lines of whatever is available and good – that’s what you should be cooking with. You shouldn’t be ordering produce around what you’ve planned on a menu. Like, there’s no good tomatoes right now, but you see tomatoes on menus and people are paying silly prices for them. For me, my menu is based on what is best at the time. I like using whole animals – using every part is more important to me. I’m not just going to buy pork belly and let the rest go to waste. I think we have lost connection with what grows where and when. We need to use all of everything, rather than just throwing it away.

The food industry on the Gold Coast is constantly changing. What’s your opinion on all the change in the industry?
In terms of progressing the industry in general, I think there have been some good and bad openings. There are a lot of places that are doing great things, and a lot of great smaller places. I think the industry needs smaller places. Personally, I’d rather do 20 people properly, than do 200 people and make a million dollars. But that’s my approach – I’d rather be the best that I can be, but I guess that depends on how you rate success.

Were you drawn to the industry from a young age? When was the lightbulb moment when you realised you wanted to be a chef?
When I was in high school, I loved doing cooking, but I also hated it because of the teacher. I was thinking, “this is good, and I am good at it, but I bloody hate that teacher and I don’t want to do it anymore!”. I worked as a kitchen hand at a cool little restaurant at home, but I wasn’t really sure if that was the life that I wanted. Then after two years of uni, I was like ‘nup’. Then a job came up and after an hour in the kitchen I realised I didn’t want to do anything else – it was just way too satisfying.

What occupation would you love to do, if you were not a chef and restaurant owner?
I’d like to be a butcher, or a baker. Or, maybe a candlestick maker? For me, that’s one thing I would love to do, a little shop where all the hams and jamon and everything is made in-house.

What is your hope for the future of the Gold Coast? What changes would you like to see?
I would love to see the surf get less crowded! But I’d love to see the local produce shine through more on the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast is one of the of the best places in Australia for produce, it deadset has everything that you could need, and I think we need to see that start to shine.

What’s your favourite meal to cook at home?
There’s a lot – but probably jambalaya would be the number one. We had some pretty good chicken and broccoli ramen noodles last night though.

Chef life is pretty hectic. How do you unwind?
Umm, the bookkeeping … have some beers. We go foraging on most days off and I work on new dishes and new ideas, which is relaxing.

What are some words of wisdom that you live by?
If I’m not learning anything, or pushing myself and being proud of what I am doing, then I just don’t do it. As soon as I find it being redundant, and you’re just going through them motions, then I don’t do it. I think that’s really important for people and it keeps everything moving forward.


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