In 2009, things in the Tanda Tula kitchen were run a little differently. The head chefs were a creative collaboration between Nina and Hayley, who could be found baking large batches of rusks or managing cooking disasters such as the once inspired pizza salad! Wow, we have come a long way.
Under the skill and guidance of Chef Ryan, today we can proudly say our food is some of the best in the bush! Luckily, Ryan joined the team very near the start and has been part of this incredible journey from almost the beginning. We asked him about some of the changes, his fondest memories and craziest moments.
1. What was the food like when you started at Tanda Tula?
“The food was not that bad, although there were a few strange combinations and there was that one time when Chef David made a lamb curry without any lamb in it! But generally, bush breakfast was similar to what it is now, and lunches were light salads. We have really grown and added some amazing new salads. Dinners’ were usually served in a simple buffet-style, but the food was rich and heavily cream based, but also a bit underwhelming for the caliber of the lodge. One of my biggest challenges when I started was the food wastage due to massive over catering, but today we are extremely careful about reusing ingredients where we can and making sure we prepare the right amount of food.”
2. How has it changed?
“The first thing I did was move away from basic buffet-style dinner menus to smaller, more delicate plated dinners with more emphasis on flavour and presentation. I also implemented a set cyclic menu system that changes each season to take advantage of all the wonderful local produce that is available in the area. Over the years I have adjusted and added dishes, courses and variation to the menus to help give as much value to our guest’s experience. We have also put a stop to David’s whiskey-infused morning coffee (which could explain the lamb-less lamb curry!)”
3. What influence have you had over the changes?
“Quite a bit, but at Tanda Tula we operate as a big team, so I have always brainstormed ideas with the Dale and Hayley, gathering as much input and advice as I can before making any big changes.”
4. What do you still serve that has been a timeless favourite?
“I like to change as much as possible on each menu cycle to keep my own personal creative juices flowing and to keep the kitchen team excited. But I have found that the oxtail stew and the lemon panna cotta just keep cropping up on the menus!”
5. How do you see the food changing in the future?
“I can definitely see a health trend setting in. Guests prefer to stick to a health-conscious diet, even on holiday! Also, simple food with the best ingredients always triumphs!”