FNQ Food meet the chef behind Jaques Coffee Plantation.
Sitting in the open-air restaurant of Jaques Coffee Plantation it’s difficult not to notice the coffee, row upon row of neat and tidy shrubs that hand over the precious seeds once a year. The plantation has been at the forefront of Australian coffee and harvesting for over 40 years. The place remains in family ownership with several generations working together to create a truly unique product here in Queensland’s fertile Far North. With over 85,000 productive trees this is no small enterprise, employing a least 15 staff all year round.
I’m waiting to catch up with Marie, chef and driving force behind the kitchen of Jaques 130 cover café, which although out of the way is a very popular destination with tourists and locals alike. And yes the coffee is mighty good!
With over thirteen years as a chef, Marie learned her trade in her native Germany, then progressed to an international career on cruise-ships finally coming to rest in Norway, before making one more trip to Australia a couple of years ago. She took over the plantation kitchen a little over a year and a half ago.
When she started, Marie was given carte blanche to build specials for the restaurant and has gone on to manage the kitchen.
“We make our specials from what is available locally; we buy in what we want fresh. I like to use my recipes and work in local produce.
“I am constantly surprised by what I can get fresh here, all of our suppliers are local, and the variety is impressive. “It’s a creative process, learning what the locals and visitors enjoy and what takes off. One of the runaway favourites is my Steak and Guinness Pie. I marinate the meat to my own recipe and create a unique taste. We always have great healthy options on the menu, but the customers always come back to traditional food.”
Marie extols the virtue of fresh food, and the speed of delivery from field to fork. “I could order pineapples when I was in Germany”, she says “they just had to come a lot further!”
“I really love the freedom Jaques has given me here, it is fantastic to have control of the menu with the full support of the owners. It’s an amazing region, watching the harvest and the changing landscape creates a connection to the seasons and the local ingredients.
“We make everything in house, from jams to baked goods, everything is freshly cooked on site.”
There is no doubting this is a special place, a not so hidden gem tucked away on the Tablelands.
At the time of writing Jaques cafe restaurant is open daily and serves everything from coffee to cocktails and deliciously fresh food. Tours of the plantation take thirty minutes and are available throughout the day.
Please check in advance before heading there as to current opening hours under restrictions. This article was produced prior to Covid-19 restrictions being in place.
Opening hours and capacities have been greatly affected therefore, please check with the venue for current trading information.