Southwood will replace Shane Wilson, who is moving on to become chef at new restaurant/bar Henry Austin in the former Chesser Cellar site.
“When Duncan [Welgemoed] left Bistro Dom in 2014, I was approached about the top job but I just couldn’t do it at the time,” says Southwood, who now has two-year-old twins.
“I have always been disappointed that I missed out, so when I heard the position was up again it, it felt like fate.
“I’m so thrilled to be given a second chance.”
The New-Guinea-born chef and former MasterChef contestant will bring to Bistro Dom a whole new kitchen team, including a sous chef from Sean’s Kitchen.
“I am bringing in a very young team,” says Southwood. “I have always worked with young people who have a lot of passion.
“My new sous chef has never been given a real break. He’s very thirsty and will push to make this place fantastic.”
Southwood is moving from a “tree-change” role at the White House in Hahndorf, where he says he mainly catered for “pop-up lunches and boutique weddings”. He has extensive chef experience, having previously worked overseas in Barcelona restaurants and at Dish in Byron Bay, as well as locally at Public CBD, Regatta’s Bistro, d’Arry’s Verandah, The Flying Fish Café and The Pheasant Farm Restaurant.
“When I see a venue, it calls out to me,” he says. “I’ve always had an affinity with Bistro Dom; this building and this venue have a really special vibe which I admit I was drawn to.”
As well as the recent renovations which offer Bistro Dom the potential to use the laneway at the rear of the building, owner Marcus Carter and Southwood have undertaken a major renovation of the kitchen.
“I’m a bit like a dog – I want to get rid of the old scent,” says Southwood.
He is tight-lipped about details of his food plans for Bistro Dom, but says he has designed a new menu of “smaller bar snacks and very fast fresh items that can be out within 15 minutes”. He will also continue to offer a degustation menu “constructed from all the smaller and larger dishes”.
“I know there are big shoes to fill in this kitchen; I’m not going to try to copy them, but rather do what I do best and take Bistro Dom to another level through the quality of food on the plate.
“One dish I will definitely say will be on the menu is a dish that has followed me around my whole career, a Catalan seafood soup called Suquet. The ingredients are simple but the complexity of the flavour is incredible; it includes a picada (an aromatic sauce) stirred in right at the end. It will be a main course dish and will also be incorporated into the tasting menu.”
Southwood will begin his first dinner service at Bistro Dom tomorrow night.
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