Chef Clayton Donovan works on perfecting his bush-tucker menu for the upcoming Saltwater Freshwater Festival.
Chef Clayton Donovan works on perfecting his bush-tucker menu for the upcoming Saltwater Freshwater Festival.

Tip your hat to the Jaaning Tree

COFFS Coast foodies will be pleased to know there’s a new ‘hat’ in the neighbourhood.

Nambucca’s Jaaning Tree, the breezy restaurant on the banks of the Nambucca River offering food with a bush-tucker twist, has been awarded the coveted accolade in this year’s Australian Good Food Guide.

“It came as a huge surprise,” chef Clayton Donovan said.

“You never can tell who the judges are these days but it really feels good to be recognised. Jane and I have worked very hard since we opened two and a half years ago – and now it is starting to pay off.”

The Jaaning Tree joins the Coffs Coast’s other ‘hatted’ restaurants Fiasco Ristorante and Bar at the Jetty and Bellingen’s No 2 Oak Street.

Clayton said they had intentionally set out to be ‘off-centre’, using the bush food flavours in combination with more traditional ingredients.

“It’s always a gamble when you do that stuff because you never know how it will go – but it seems to be working.

“We’ve been building ideas up slowly, now we will work on refining what works and then come up with some fresh ideas.”

When it comes to bush flavours, Clayton said Dorrigo pepper was special.

“It has a pungent warmth, which is quite hot when you use it on meat but add it to dairy and it takes on a nutmeggy, clove-like texture.”

And his chef’s tip: “You have to get out of your comfort zone to get really creative – just be experimental.”



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