Jess Boardman, Smoke & Barrels

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Jess Boardman has been busy working on a brand new project in Bellingen since we spoke to her last. She has expanded her catering business and opened a new and exciting restaurant! Smoke and Barrels is now up and running and we’re excited to hear about the process of getting it started and what we can expect from the new restaurant.

Hey Jess. You’ve been working hard on a new project since we last spoke to you. Can you reveal what it is to our readers?

I have been busy fitting out a new restaurant and have called it Smoke and Barrels – which is now open and located at the top of the Bellingen township. This has been a dream of mine for many years, and I am absolutely stoked with how it has turned out.

What’s the idea behind the new restaurant? What style of food will you be serving up?

We pride ourselves on delivering a service of the finest quality, using fresh and seasonal locally sourced ingredients. Our friendly staff give you an experience not to forget, bringing creative cocktails and vibrant dishes straight to your table. 

The menus will change every season, ensuring the food is the freshest we can get. Our style is what I like to call modern Australian, having influences from all over the world, mainly French and Italian. 

Out of all the dishes you could come up with, how does a dish make the final cut?

To make the cut we source the best ingredients we can, depending on what is in season and available locally. We then determine how to use them based on other menu items and how they will complement each other. I don’t like making the same thing over and over. The learning never stops in this industry; keeping up with modern trends is super important. 

What inspired you to take on this new venture?

It’s been a dream of mine since the day I started my apprenticeship in 2005. My vision with food is very unique, and it would not be possible to reach my potential working in someone else’s restaurant, so I decided to open my own. I have had many roles in the hospitality industry that have prepared me for the role of restaurateur.    

What has been the most challenging aspect of starting a brand new restaurant?

One week after receiving the keys, I slipped in the kitchen at the new restaurant and broke my leg. I’m quite a strong and fit individual and rely on myself to get a lot done, so this made the fit out come to nearly a complete standstill. Luckily, we had some amazing support from friends and family, who came together and got it done. I am truly blessed to have these people in my life. 

What are you most excited about and looking forward to?

Getting the support of our local community to make this an iconic restaurant and having Smoke & Barrels as a special place for people to meet. I’m really excited to have a bar and match beverages to our food; this is something new to me, and I love learning every aspect of the food and beverage industry.

Will you be doing most of the cooking for the restaurant? Do you have a team together yet?

Yes, myself and chef James Golding will be doing most of the cooking at Smoke & Barrels. The team is already well established from the catering company and my previous business at the Diggers Tavern Bistro. We are expanding as the business grows and look forward to welcoming another talented chef to our team soon. We have great front of house and bar staff and enjoy catching up over a drink together after a hard day’s work.

How have you found juggling this project and your catering business?

It’s certainly been a challenge, but now that the set-up is complete, the catering business will fit right in with the restaurant and work as one unit. This has worked very well in the past, and I am confident it will work seamlessly for the team at Smoke & Barrels.

What have you learnt about yourself taking on such a big project?

I’ve learnt that to achieve big goals you have to wake up early and stay up late; working around the clock gets the job done. This took maximum effort and was worth every second; I’m really proud of what has been achieved here.

Where can people find out more and keep up to date with what’s happening at Smoke & Barrels?

Through social media; we have a Facebook and Instagram page. A simple Google search will show you our website, address and phone number. 

We welcome people to come and check it out and walk in the door; lots of the Bellingen locals have been stopping in to say hello and see what we are all about. 

Thanks Jess. 

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