There is a school of thought that says that success comes in iterations, has layers and grows like a ladder from a good foundation of hard work. If that is true, then The Bungalow is a shining example of this theory in action.
Saying that Stewart Gibson and his family have vision is an understatement, transforming the virtually derelict Westcourt Tavern into the popular flourishing suburban pub it is today has been a hard, but obviously rewarding journey. One of the latest editions to the team is no exception to this atmosphere of determination. Toward the end of last year, the kitchen at The Bungalow got a new captain, when experienced chef Dan Watt took the helm. We got word of a new menu on the way and so went to catch up with Dan, to meet the man and see what we could expect from the kitchen of this modern pub icon!
Dan started cooking young with his mother and grandmother, he took turns with his brother cooking meals for the family, and soon this turned into a passion. "I really wanted to do this as a job, so I went toward doing an apprenticeship, plus I got to leave school at year ten. I could leave school if I got an apprenticeship, so I went and got apprenticeship!” says Dan.
Dan did his time at the Sheraton on the Park in Sydney and was invited to stay after his training was complete. "I was there all up over five and a half years, it was a great experience, I worked everywhere, in every department and learned a lot about all aspects of the industry, from fine dining to buffets."
After leaving Dan headed north ending up on the Gold Coast becoming the Executive Chef at Oscars at Burleigh. "Oscars had been there for about 40 years, it was a great place with lots of seafood. Popular with the locals, we saw a lot of regular trade from the area."
Expanding his horizons, and motivated by a liking for the tropical climate Dan moved to FNQ completing a brief stint in Port Douglas with the ill-fated Arabella's, after which he found himself with the perfect new challenge leading the kitchen at The Bungalow.
"This is a great place, already with a good reputation, and somewhere I thought I could grow." After a few busy months Dan was ready to put together a menu. "I wanted to add some things that would be unique to us here, and of course, we're keeping all the old favourites, it's very much adding some options that are unavailable elsewhere."
"When I stared here I found out there was a full-size wood smoker that the previous chef hadn't ever used."
"Smoking meat has been an enthusiasm that has grown with me over the last few years. I bought a little $150 offset smoker for the back yard, and fell in love with the results."
"It's all about experimenting with flavours, the wood you use and the meat you're smoking."
"It's a matter of trial and error and finding that perfect combination, it's gratifying and of course tasty."
"We're adding some new things to the menu including smoked brisket burgers, we're making our own bacon, smoked ribs and more."
"We'll still keep our famous weekend spit roasts, but I'm looking to alternate the meats, one weekend would be pork, the next could be lamb or a beef cut etc. The menu will have a smokehouse section too."
"And there’ll be a daily special of whatever I fancy smoking when I wake up that morning!"
"It won't all be smoked" Dan laughed ", but it's a great point of difference." When asked what he did on his days off? "I smoke meat at home!"
The Bungalow is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with a full bar and bottle shop stocking many local and craft lines.