The Coast Hotel’s restaurant has just undergone a new name, menu and branding. FOCUS had a chat with the chefs, Shaun Pilley, Calum Butters and Kanella Ormsby …
Think of what Coffs needs, think of an old beauty reinvented into a new style and approach to what is a very crowded market on the Mid North Coast.
The Dining Room’s history has taken a full 360. Back in the day – and I mean “back in the day”- the Coast Hotel’s restaurant was called … you guessed it, “The Dining Room”. So, when Michael Cherote decided that it was time for a change, it made complete sense to get back to the heritage of the iconic venue.
Everything has changed, starting with the name, brand new tapas and lunch/dinner menu. You can now order food from 12pm – 9pm, seven days a week, which is unique for Coffs Harbour. The restaurant itself has had a facelift, giving it a fresh, clean Hamptons feel. Having an open fire has given it the warm touch that is needed, especially on the winter nights we are experiencing now.
The team is what drives the incredible food that is being produced right now. It is the new team which is the most exciting part of the rebirth of “The Dining Room”. We introduce Shaun Pilley, who has a worked as a chef for 20 years plus, including in the best restaurants in town, bringing a wealth of knowledge. His passion for food is very apparent when you meet him; he dishes up only the best of the best, which shows in every dish.
Calum Butters is our next introduction; his name sounds like it’s something straight out of Peaky Blinders – which isn’t far from the truth, as he’s from the UK. He loves to make extraordinary food with a passion for deserts, which makes sense, considering he is a pastry chef as well.
Kanella Ormsby has been our backbone for the last two years. Her passion for cooking has showed across all facets of the restaurant. We would be lost without her, Kanella’s work ethic is second to none.
What does “The Dining Room” offer?
The goal is to offer something different to the normal pub food, using local ingredients, fresh fish and seafood. There’s a daily changing specials board, but most of all the motto is “everything we make, we will make”. This gives the customer the healthiest, freshest food possible. We change menus regularly to work with our customers and the ever-changing season, and serve food 12pm – 9pm, seven days a week, which is a game changer for Coffs Harbour.
What inspires you to keep cooking?
The environment and the people you work with. It is an
ever-changing landscape, which makes for an exciting job. When you have a team that has the same goal, it turns a job into a hobby.
Do you have a favourite ingredient to work with?
I love fennel. It is a very versatile vegetable; it can be roasted, pickled, braised or just shaved with some nice orange and feta on a hot summer’s day, or served as a creamy winter warming soup. Its mild aniseed flavour complements a wide variety of foods.
Tell us about the restaurants you worked in overseas …
I started my cooking career at the Scotsman Hotel in Edinburgh; it is a 5 star boutique hotel with a 3 rosette restaurant. I then worked at a Michelin starred restaurant in London called Pollen Street Social by Jason Atherton. The most recent was at a top hotel on the Isles of Scilly called Hell Bay Hotel, with 3 rosettes. We were changing the menu daily, which I loved, because it challenged my creativity.
With such a decorated cooking career, why Coffs
I moved to Coffs Harbour with Magenta, my fiancé, who is from Coffs Harbour. I joined “The Dining Room” team because I was excited about being part of the change. The vision that the team have and the quality of food we want to take “The Dining Room” to is exciting, especially for Coffs Harbour. The team we have here is what brings out the best in our creativity, style and the quality of what we dish up on each plate.
What made you to come to Coffs Harbour?
I travelled across the ditch from a beautiful place in New Zealand called Tauranga six years ago, moving straight to Perth, where I continued my cooking career. Two years ago, I came for a two-week holiday to visit my sister – and never left. It feels like home; the people are welcoming, the place is beautiful, and my love for Coffs Harbour grows every day.
What makes you come to work every day?
It is the people. Michael is the best boss I have worked for in Australia. It is an exciting time with the new restaurant, new menu and new team. I love the fact we can be creative, push each other to the limits, work hard, but best of all we do it having a laugh.