Tim Stewart, owner/chef, The North Room
I just love cooking and eating a good piece of pork – everything from the trotters to its tail and ears ...
Hailing from Geelong, renowned chef Tim Stewart is leaving his culinary footprint on the Gold Coast in the most delicious way. After owning and operating Pippi’s in Yamba, Tim and his wife Shannon made the move north to the Gold Coast about eight years ago. Since then, Tim has worked across some of the city’s most prominent kitchens, including Vanitas at Palazzo Versace, Seaduction and Honeyeater Kitchen. In May this year, Tim and Shannon opened the doors to The North Room in Mermaid Beach, introducing a new element of refined dining to the popular beachside suburb. Whilst Tim is often found working his magic in the kitchen, we thought it was time to put a face to the name – so we caught up to chat about food philosophies, surfing and his love of pork.
How would you best describe your philosophy on food?
My philosophy on food is to use local where possible, work with seasonal produce to create innovative dishes that aren’t over complicated, and to let one ingredient shine and the others to compliment the dish.
Let’s go back to the beginning – where did your love for food stem from?
I have always been passionate about food from a young age, I spent many weekends in the kitchen with mum … though she was always much better with sweets than the savoury dishes. Then I had some amazing teachers though high school who really encouraged me to take the next step.
What particular ingredient are you loving working with at the moment and why?
Favourite ingredient at the moment would be pork. I just love cooking and eating a good piece of pork – everything from the trotters to its tail and ears. I don’t think anything could beat it. At the moment we are using smoked pork fat on oysters, plus braised pork jowl with our black pudding that we make, and also lardo with our octopus.
What can you remember about stepping into a professional kitchen for the first time?
The first time I was young not even 18 so I was very nervous not knowing what to expect, unaware I would get a bollocking on my first day. I remember it being hot, stuck in the worst section of the kitchen doing larder and dishes and being told to hurry up and having a pan thrown back at me because there was some water still on it … but for some reason I loved it!
Where do you draw inspiration for your dishes?
I get inspiration from going out to farms or the fishmonger just looking around seeing different ingredients and thinking ‘what can I do with that?’. Also from going out surfing clearing my head. I will try to find something different and try to work out a dish around that. I’m always keeping up to date on what is happening in the foodie world, and keeping up to date with the trends – but I still try to keep my own spin of integrating a coastal feel to my European menu at The North Room.
What are your thoughts on the progression of the Gold Coast dining scene?
I think the progression of the dining scene is good – in the eight years that I have been on the coast it has come a long way. Back then you would be struggling to find good places to eat. But now there is so much to choose from and so many good restaurants. I think the only problem is that there are new restaurants opening up every week and that there will be too much on the coast soon, which will eventually see a few fall.
What is your favourite local spot to:
Perk-up … All Time Coffee
Relax … Burleigh beach
Dine … Jimmy Wah’s
Be inspired … Currumbin Valley and Tweed Coast
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