Cameron Matthews, executive chef, Long Apron Restaurant, Montville, Queensland. 
Images supplied by the Spicers Group.

AMIABLE, over-achieving Cameron Matthews, general manager of Spicers Clovelly Estate at Montville on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, also executive chef of its Long Apron Restaurant, is understandably elated and honoured. He’s been awarded a 2016 prestigious Churchill Fellowship.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust aims to reward talented and deserving Australians with an opportunity to pursue excellence which ultimately enriches Australian society and Cameron was one of 106 Australians including 15 Queenslanders.

There are no prescribed entry qualifications, however the subject of the project had to be limitless and provide benefit to the community.

Sound easy? Not at all. High-end restaurants are often associated with anything from grandeur, splendid locations, celebrated chefs and small serves on large plates, to pompous staff, devoid of ambience and alas, even indecipherable lists of ingredients with zero provenance.

Cameron has bigger, better ideas, amongst them being the promotion of sustainable practice and its vital impact on the food industry. His kitchen is not foreign to luxury, but his aspirations are far higher. And it’s his vision for zero-waste in high-end Australian restaurants, which will take him across the world.

“The food industry needs more advocates to speak with authority about issues of sustainability and with greater knowledge,” says Cameron. “I hope to gather knowledge, tools, resources and new ideas to bring back to share and implement directly across a range of working Australian kitchens.

“I want to find ways to reduce food waste to zero, whilst increasing awareness throughout the sector, sharing a blueprint of best practice.”

Cameron will study within the kitchens and farms of the best sustainable restaurants in the world including Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York, Relae in Denmark and Azurmendi in Spain.

“It is truly humbling to have been selected as a Churchill Fellow, and I very much look forward to bringing these important findings back to Australia. Ultimately I want to use everything I gain from my Fellowship experience to create a plan to increase environmentally sustainable restaurants.

“My three children inspired the application. I feel the need to make my work count, to give it a reason and to change how most people see the way high-end restaurants work.”

“We use the local ‘terroir’, the provenance of where we live to define what we cook.” - Cameron Matthews.
“We use the local ‘terroir’, the provenance of where we live to define what we cook.” – Cameron Matthews.

Adam Davey, CEO of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, which was established to enable ordinary Australians to pursue extraordinary things, said the Churchill Fellowships, worth over $2.7m annually, tangibly deliver benefits to our Australian communities and the spirit of the Fellowships is exemplified by projects such as Cameron’s.

“He is driven by a desire to see beneficial change in his industry, and has identified gaps which need pursuing,” comments Adam Davey. “Sustainable practices in all industries are becoming more important, and in the food industry particularly, it is an important issue being raised by high-end chefs like Cameron, through to supermarkets and cafes.

“As with all Fellowship projects, the question Cameron is addressing is not only where do I need to go to find the information to make change, but how do I go about making it.

“Cameron is already thinking about the potential application of his research, and how he can translate all he learns to the broader community, which is wonderful to see.

“On behalf of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust I congratulate Cameron, and wish him luck on his Fellowship journey.”

Cameron’s working environment Spicers Clovelly Estate, overlooks Lake Baroon as well as coastal Mooloolaba. It is renowned for its luxurious suites, stunning arbours, kitchen garden and is home to one of the top 100 restaurants in Australia, The Long Apron. Devotees of degustations, long lunches and romantic dinners adore it.

“We use the local ‘terroir’, the provenance of where we live to define what we cook,” explains Cameron Matthews, whose cooking classes are also a big hit. “This is Australia’s most underrated food region and it is the relationship with local producers that dictates our cuisine: paddock to plate, root to tip, tail to snout.

“The conviviality of food is big to me. I’m like a little kid, picking things in our garden, tasting and triggering an idea. Often you can see what’s inspired the dish through the restaurant’s windows.”

Truffles with a side of sustainability anyone?

– HELEN FLANAGAN 

  • For the full list of 2016 Churchill Fellowship recipients from Australian states and territories including Norfolk Island, visit churchilltrust.com.au