AUSTRALIAN GOOD FOOD GUIDE - Home of the Chef Hat Awards
Ben Achurch

Ben Achurch

Bundaberg, Qld.


I originally got into the hospitality industry by moving to the Gold Coast when I finished high school and not having a job.

My Mum called and said there was a bakery up on Mt Tambourine that was looking for an apprentice; she said if I went into baking, I could still surf during the day! So I did it.

I finished my pastry apprenticeship at the casino and was getting bored with being stuck on production. I started watching the first season of Kitchen Nightmares UK with Gordon Ramsay and thought he was the man!

I decided I wanted to become a Chef. So I transferred to one of the restaurants in the casino to start cooking savoury food. After a few months, I applied for a breakfast Chef job at a restaurant in Main Beach, where I met my first 2 biggest influences, Mike and Trent, who got me into Thomas Keller, Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal. 

After that, I wanted to work in Hatted restaurants! I worked my way around for a few years from Chill on Tedder to Dish in Byron until I landed at Poseidon on Ephraim Island with Chef James Brady. 

We then left there to open James’ first restaurant Samphire Bites on Chevron Island, where I was Sous Chef. After that, I went to London and worked in an awesome Japanese ramen bar in Soho, then the Mayfair hotel, before landing a Sous Chef job in a 2 rosette restaurant under a ridiculously talented Chef Lee Cadden in Ealing Common, West London for a small restaurant group.

Before leaving London, I was running our newest venture W5, where we received a Michelin Bib Gourmand in the 2017 Michelin Guide. 

After moving back to Australia, I was Head Chef at AVVIA in Palm Beach; then I was asked to open the restaurant at Eleven Acres in Bundaberg.

Before COVID, I was Head Chef at Bistro C in Noosa and now I’m the Executive Chef at Bella Venezia in Mooloolaba. I’ve almost been here 3 years and we just received our first Chef Hat. Stoked!

Have you always wanted to be a Chef?

Not really. I always enjoyed cooking growing up, but I’d never considered it as a career.

How would you define your style?

I just try to make food that tastes good and looks good.

What is your feature flavour these days?

Maybe pickles, as there’s something pickled on most of my dishes, but probably citrus. Even if it’s not noticeable, almost everything I cook has some type of citrus juice or zest in it.

Obsessive-compulsive about? 

Chives being finely cut with a super sharp knife!

Your greatest culinary influence: 

Oh man, there are so many!! The one Chef that made me want to become a savoury Chef was Gordon Ramsay. Then being introduced to Thomas Kellar, Heston Blumenthal, Ferran and Albert Adria, Grant Achatz, Curtis Duffy, Peter Gilmour and Simon Rogan...the list could go on! 

I kept reading things about David Chang and Momofuku! I bought the Momofuku cookbook and that was it! I love everything about his approach to food and restaurants by taking classic dishes, and flavours and swapping out ingredients to make something that looks or may sound strange but still tastes familiar, as well as flipping the idea of a ‘traditional restaurant’ and service are meant to be on its head. 

What do you love about this business?

The creativity and camaraderie.

An ingredient you can’t live without?


Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?

Nothing out there, but for some reason people seem to have an issue with the fact that I cut up my Mooloolaba King prawns into bite size pieces as opposed to serving them whole tail on for my take on the prawn Caesar salad.  It’s more work for us, but I feel it’s a better eating experience.

Signature dish:
I wouldn’t say a signature, but my favourite dish on the menu at the moment is our scallops, with fennel and goats’ cheese purée, kipfler potato, confit fennel and an orange juice emulsion studded with salmon roe, tobiko and chives.

Tell us something no one knows about you?

I play guitar in a metal band.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Hopefully still pushing to create a better dining experience for our customers, continuing to inspire and develop our team and helping to grow the business.

Bella Venezia

Bella Venezia

Prepare for a tantalising journey of Italian dining at Bella Venezia, a popular hot spot on Mooloolaba’s vibrant Esplanade at Pacific Beach Resort. Calling this iconic precinct home since 1983, Bella Venezia offers several dining options from plush blue velvet seating and red velvet booths to tables overlooking the beautiful Mooloolaba Esplanade and alfresco Champagne garden dining. Premium produce is sourced from local Sunshine Coast suppliers, seafood from Mooloolaba Port and quality imported ingredients for a menu overflowing with artfully plated dishes created by award-winning Chefs. Savour tempting plates like spaghetti with Moreton Bay bug tail, chilli, cherry tomatoes, lobster, prawn and Cognac bisque, before decadent desserts of lemon and cinnamon baked cheesecake and apple sorbet.

Read more

More Chefs