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Trent Dawson

Trent Dawson


My first kitchen role was a steward at the Blue Note Café in Brisbane in 1994, before I undertook an apprenticeship at the then ‘Two Small Rooms’ in 1996. 

I wanted to further expand my skills, so I moved to England in 1999 and worked at ‘Juniper Altrincham’, which was a Michelin starred restaurant. 

I moved back to Australia in 2001 to work at ‘Siggi’ as the Chef de Partie before progressing to Sous Chef at ‘360 bar and dining’ in 2005. 

I was drawn to the lifestyle of Mount Tambourine and took a role as the Chef de Cuisine at ‘Songbirds Rainforest Retreat’ in 2009 where the restaurant was awarded one hat.

In 2013, I was unable to pass up an opportunity to be the Chef de Cuisine at the acclaimed Cha Cha Char in Brisbane, so I returned to the city. 

When I was presented with the opportunity to move to Hamilton Island in 2015, I couldn’t resist the lure of a coastal lifestyle. I became the Head Chef of the Island’s seafood restaurant, Mariners. 

My career on the Island has continued to progress and I was appointed to the position of Executive Chef of Bommie restaurant, which is the Island’s fine dining restaurant that is committed to celebrating the very best Australian produce. 

Have you always wanted to be a Chef?

As a child, I often cooked regularly with my grandmother and my love for being in the kitchen started to develop from a young age. I knew from the age of thirteen that all I wanted to do in terms of a career was to become a Chef, and my passion for cooking became more apparent and thrived as I grew older. 

How would you define your style? 

I like to develop dishes which are modern interpretations of a classical technique. It is important to me to pay homage to classical dishes utilising contemporary flavour combinations. 

What is your feature flavour these days?

With Bommie restaurant being on Hamilton Island in the spectacular Whitsundays region, it is hard to go past using fresh local seafood. North Queensland coral trout is one of my favourite Whitsunday ingredients, along with mud crab when in season. Champagne lobster and cobia are also great. Last, but not least Spanish Mackerel from August to December.

Obsessive-compulsive about? 

Kitchen hygiene and proper storage are both very important to me. I also find it hard to operate without high-quality knives which are extremely sharp. 

Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:

Michel Bras (Bras)
Michael Wignall (The Latymer, Gidleigh Park)
George Diamond (former mentor at Siggi and 360)
Peter Goossens (Hof van Cleve)
Paul Kitching (Juniper Restaurant 21212)

What do you love about this business?

Being a Chef allows me to be creative, but it also provides an opportunity for me to push and challenge myself daily. I am very fortunate to work on Hamilton Island where I can constantly experiment with my dishes. It also happens to be 
one of the most picturesque locations in the world!

An ingredient you can’t live without?

It may sound dull when there are so many amazing ingredients out there, but I can’t live without using onion and garlic. They are both staples to many great dishes and always add a boost to the flavour of a dish.

Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?

I feel the most eyebrow-raising dish on the menu at Bommie restaurant at the moment is my variation in rabbit and octopus, butternut, squid wafer and sauce diable. 

Signature dish:

I am constantly evolving my style and don’t believe I will ever reach the point where I will be able to say ‘that’s it… it will never get any better than that’, but at the moment my signature dish at Bommie restaurant would be my Moreton Bay bug chicken wing, nori dumpling, togarashi pepper, bisque. Moreton Bay bugs are one of the most pristine Queensland derived ingredients. I am constantly working with my team to find additional ways to evolve this dish.