Zebu Bar + Grill Head Chef Ben Holloway
What inspired you to become a chef?
I have always been interested in food and cooking. From an early age, I was keen to explore flavours and styles of food. The lifestyle also appealed to me – being able to travel Australia creating dishes up and down the coast.
Tell us about your background in the hospitality industry.
I am a Port Macquarie local and completed my four year apprenticeship at Cray’s Seafood Restaurant in Port Macquarie on Clarence St. This restaurant, owned by Zar and Gernard Waterhouse, was the seafood restaurant in its day, serving up a selection of local seafood for locals and visitors to the region. Head Chef at Vista Restaurant was my next big project; the new owners ironically took over the upstairs space, formerly Crays.
I then was the Head Chef for Finnian’s Irish Tavern, followed by a stint up in Cairns on the Ocean Spirit Cruise – the largest cruise operation in Cairns, with three boats each catering for 150 guests. This was an amazing experience, getting to meet many talented chefs and seeing some more of Australia’s beautiful coastline. I also worked at Fish Divine, an amazing seafood restaurant and bar in Cairns, before being offered the role at Zebu – bringing me back to Port Macquarie.
What are some of your favourite ingredients to use on a daily basis?
There are so many to choose from! I would have to say my key favourites would be seafood of all kinds, chilli, and cured meats like our house cured Ocean Trout.
What is unique about the Zebu menu?
Our unique point of difference would be our specially sourced meats. We are currently sourcing our beef from the Central Tablelands, Tasmania and the highlands of Victoria. Our Pork is coming from Bangalow on the North Coast and is some of the best in the country. We have also just employed a talented new dessert chef, Christina Hamel, who is creating some really eclectic and amazing desserts and pastry creations for our guests.
Tell us about some of the winter menu favourites.
Our winter menu will launch in mid June and will be highlighting some delicious winter classics with some modern inspirations, such as our Venison Wellington with globe artichoke and gooseberry jus. A classic Bouillabaisse will also be a feature on the menu – a French classic with a Zebu signature. Roasted Quail Confit with tomato fondue will also be a great winter dish. Something new to try will be the Five Course Seafood Degustation.
Do you cater for functions or any other special services at Zebu?
The Zebu Room is a private waterfront space attached to the restaurant that caters for 60 in a banquet formation or 90 cocktail style and is perfect for birthdays, engagements, cocktail parties or corporate dinners. This space has its own private balcony, with views and access to the Town Green and is perfect for celebrations and corporate events.
What will people enjoy most about dining at Zebu? Zebu has its own unique atmosphere, with beautiful fireplaces throughout the bar and grill, natural timbers, candlelight and of course, the floor to ceiling windows with vast views over the water. It is the perfect spot for a cosy winter dinner with friends or colleagues. The bar is also a great winter meeting place for after work drinks or a pre dinner cocktail.