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18 April 2024 | Restaurant

Champions of local produce

Not one but two acclaimed chefs, both champions of local produce and both with extensive experience in Michelin starred restaurants, recently took over the reins at the award-winning The Paddock restaurant at Beechmont Estate in Queensland’s famed Scenic Rim.  

Chris Norman has been appointed Executive Chef and Alex Norman Executive Sous & Pastry Chef. The food and music loving husband and wife team bring a wealth of experience and a new vision to the two-chef hatted restaurant which is nestled amongst the beautiful rolling green hills of the Scenic Rim, just 90 minutes from Brisbane and 45 minutes from the Gold Coast.

Chef Chris & Alex Norman
Chef Chris & Alex Norman

They also bring strong relationships with some of the region’s leading local producers, having worked closely with Tommerup Dairy Farm, Tommy’s Eggs and Harry’s Produce, Towri Sheep Cheeses, Australian Sweetwater Crays and Pretty Produce during their time in Brisbane, and said they have already expanded their local produce repertoire.

“The region is incredibly diverse in its offering and there is an abundance of phenomenal produce to choose from, from unique products like Summer Land Camel’s award-winning feta and Sarabah Estate’s cheeses, to stunning produce from Valley Pride, Pikes Creek and Greenlee Macadamias, and we are thrilled to now be living and working here and able to create more dishes that shine the light on local flavours,” said Chris.

Chris hails from Scotland and boasts a career established in Michelin-starred restaurants and luxury hotels in the UK. His refined approach emphasises classic flavour combinations using modern techniques and he has a passion for ethically sustainable produce, which aligns perfectly with The Paddock’s commitment to the farm-to-plate ethos. Alex similarly honed her skills in Michelin-starred establishments and brings a meticulous touch to pastry and desserts. Her journey from a scholarship with London’s Royal Academy of Culinary Arts to roles at iconic luxury hotels and restaurants has allowed her to develop a flair for innovative desserts.

The couple met while both working at The Ritz, London and travelled to Australia in 2011. Here, they have lent their expertise to chef-hatted restaurants including Brisbane’s Hervé’s Restaurant & Bar, Sydney’s prestigious Merivale group, and luxury hotels and resorts including One&Only Hayman Island, Gold Coast’s Palazzo Versace and Emporium Hotel, Brisbane.

Morris Escapes CEO, Ross Penegar said Chris’ and Alex’s appointments are the latest example of of the group’s commitment to culinary excellence at its luxury lodges spread throughout Queensland.

“This marks the next big step for Beechmont Estate, one that will build upon the luxury retreat’s established reputation for sophisticated paddock-to-plate gastronomy,” Penegar said. “Chris and Alex are dedicated to showcasing the region’s finest ingredients, sourced sustainably from our on-site kitchen garden and the surrounding area. They emphasise a true farm-to-plate experience through a thoughtful use of native ingredients and local producers delivering directly to the kitchen door.”

Their passion for local flavours is obvious and brings to life an à la carte menu that encapsulates the essence of locality and seasonality, featuring dishes such as farm asparagus with whipped tofu, sweetwater cray with brandade croquette, dry aged wagyu rump served with beetroot, and Pike’s Creek black diamond plum with pistachio frangipane and finger lime leaf ice-cream. With its unpretentious take on fine dining, The Paddock offers an immersive restaurant experience and welcomes guests staying at Beechmont Estate, as well as visitors.  

Chris and Alex are introducing a fresh calendar of events not to be missed in 2024, including guest chef collaborations, winemaker weekends and high teas.  

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