Davy O'Rourke, Mama Coco - Words By Janie Barton
Who would have thought that a humble market stall at Rusty’s would pave the way to success for one of Cairns’ most popular cafes? Such is the case for Davy O’Rourke’s Mama Coco café, which started in 2008 selling cakes at the weekend markets.
By the end of 2008, Mama Coco’s cakes and treats were so much in demand Davy started selling wholesale to cafes, and in early 2009 he took the plunge and leased a commercial kitchen. From there the café was born.
“My mum was the inspiration behind starting the market stall,” Davy said. “She is from PNG and that culture of making goods for sale and going to the markets was something she grew up with, so she encouraged me to do that with her, so we started there together.”
The café’s name is a combination of a tribute to his mum as well as to one of the main ingredients in their popular brownies. While his mother doesn’t work in the café any longer, Davy says she visits regularly and is in charge of quality control.
Davy, an experienced chef of 10 years before moving to Cairns, could have worked in any five-star restaurant in Australia, especially after working with renowned and award-winning chef Wakuda Tetsuya in Sydney
(where the waiting list for a meal in his restaurant is said to be six months). But, after a visit to Cairns to visit his parents who had moved here, he decided to make Cairns home.
He and his team of 10 continue to receive fantastic reviews for their breakfast and lunch menus, not only because of the fresh and innovative menu choices using as much local produce as possible, but also because of Mama Coco’s culture.
“Mama believes that the best form of hospitality is that which is found in the home, and it’s our aim to make all our guests experience this,” said Davy, who was born in PNG and grew up in Canberra and Sydney.
Mama Coco also has monthly themed nights the last Friday of each month, featuring cuisine from different culture such as Spanish, Italian and Japanese, to name a few.
“The thing that drives me is making people happy,” Davy said. “One of my biggest motivations is making Mama Coco a great environment for guests as well as staff. My personal feeling is it’s all about doing what’s best for your customers all the time.”
196 Aumuller Street, Westcourt