April 13, 2022
Wine & Dine

Three minutes with Brendan Roach

Raised on the Fleurieu and trained at the notable Windy Point restaurant, Brendan Roach pursued his cooking career around the world before landing with his feet back on local sand as chef and co-owner of Goolwa’s beachside Kuti Shack.

BEN What are the perks of running a restaurant just a few metres from the beach?

BRENDAN There are always people on the beach, rain, hail or shine – walking their dogs, whale-watching or riding their horses. Also, being able to have a quick dip and cool down in between lunch and dinner shifts throughout summer is a bonus!

BEN What can we expect from a visit to Kuti Shack?

BRENDAN You can expect to be welcomed with a smile and a menu with fresh local seafood and native indigenous ingredients. I enjoy working with some of the less common seafood like eagle ray, salmon trout and Tommy ruff which are all great sustainable by-catch, as well as pipis which are great eating.

BEN What’s the story behind the restaurant?

BRENDAN The Goolwa PipiCo is the reason (co-owner) Vanessa Button and I are here. The PipiCo team had the dream of opening a cellar door, like a winery would for their wines, and what better spot than right in the dunes on Goolwa Beach, the home of the pipi. They got Vanessa and myself together and helped us redesign the kiosk in late 2019. We did a complete fit-out and menu in just four weeks, all in time to open one week before that Christmas.

BEN What pipi dishes should we try?

BRENDAN We always have a hero pipi dish on the menu. It was previously XO pipis and now it’s chilli jam and lemongrass pipis. We have pipis in our laksa and we’ve always had a pipi linguini. Seafood bouillabaisse featuring pipis is on the specials board rotation. Around summer when oysters are spawning, we have sashimi pipis – a must-try for oyster lovers.

BEN What is Kuti Shack’s working relationship with the Ngarrindjeri people?

BRENDAN We treasure our relationship with the Ngarrindjeri. Local leaders use Kuti Shack as a meeting place which we are very proud of. They often bring us native ingredients that we love to cook with, including pipis harvested by the Ngarrindjeri-run company KutiCo. We also have on display the prominent work of local artists Cedric Varcoe and Ellen Trevorrow.

BEN What influenced you to become a chef?

BRENDAN This is a bit embarrassing, but I used to be obsessed with a show called Surprise Chef – a Greek chef Aristos Papandroulakis who would go into a supermarket and cook using whatever was in people’s trolleys back at their house. I also remember cooking a barbecue for my family when I was very young and I got paid afterwards. I couldn’t believe how easy it was and I got paid to do it.

BEN Most memorable food experience?

BRENDAN When I was working over in Canada, I got to work a Gold Medal Plates Culinary Championship Dinner at White Spirit Lodge – one of the world’s finest log chalets – for some of the Canadian Winter Olympic team and other special guests, with the best chef in Canada at the time. Also, during my apprenticeship I got to work with Michel Roux and Jacques Reymond.

BEN What’s the south coast’s best kept secret?

BRENDAN It isn’t a secret anymore after winning Young Gun of Wine in 2021, but Charlotte Dalton Wines’ cellar door on Hill Street in Port Elliot is a great spot to try wines and visit some great shops in the area.

BEN What’s your idea of the perfect day off?

BRENDAN Just a relaxing day at one of our many great wine regions with a few tastings and a long lunch.

BEN What do you listen to?

BRENDAN I do a lot of driving between Adelaide and Goolwa and if the footy or the cricket isn’t on the radio, I’m listening to some heavy metal. I haven’t got into the podcasts yet.

BEN Something most people don’t know about you?

BRENDAN I’m a twin.


This article first appeared in the February 2022 issue of SALIFE magazine.

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