Ginger Pig has recently opened on the corner of Marvell and Jonson streets in Byron Bay. We asked restaurant manager/owner Daniel Britz and chef James Emanuel to tell us a little about their new venture.
Could you tell us a little about your business/career background?
Daniel: I started my career as a 17-year-old in London in the bars of 5-star hotels, and later a a Michelin-starred restaurant called Monsieur Max, which was voted best French restaurant in London that year. I learned the classic nature of French cooking and service, as a waiter or chef de rang, sommelier and finally assistant manager.
For the next 10 years my career jumped between restaurant management and sommelier, working for some incredible chefs including Marco Pierre White, as well as a unique time on board the QM2 for its inaugural year.
The last four years have been spent at Lime Wood, a boutique 5-star country house hotel in the New Forest as head sommelier/restaurant manager developing a wine list of nearly 850 bins.
James: I started in wholesale produce in London, but then worked in kitchens throughout the world before opening my first restaurant in Wanaka in New Zealand in 2002, followed by a seafood restaurant in Margaret River in 2005. In 2008 we sold up and I travelled with my family through Europe, working in the fine dining industry, before returning to Australia as executive chef at Sea Temple in Port Douglas.
When we finally settled in Byron Bay I opened a bakery patisserie for a corporate, before opening a small cafe in Byron Bay itself (Café Oska) and an oceanfront restaurant in Lennox Head.
Who or what is your greatest influence?
Daniel: My greatest influence would have to been wine and all the forms that it takes. The symbiotic nature of food and wine is what elevates any great meal from good to sublime. With a little help from loved ones and friends…
James: My greatest influences come from my exposure to different cuisines during my travels. I love walking the local markets in Europe, Asia and Africa and absorbing aromas, colours and eating street food as often as possible. For me the simplicity of these meals is the inspiration in my cookery.
What advice have you been given that has served you well in the kitchen?
Daniel: Keep your fingers off the plate until the chef says it’s ready… you might lose them!
James: The KISS principle is one I follow as much as possible – Keep It Simple Stupid! Also, from a business and customer prospective it is so important to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.
What is the most rewarding thing about what you do?
It would have to be when a guest has had an amazing experience and lets you know they will come again.
Relaxed and informal dining with an emphasis on quality food, from tapas and share boards to mains, house-baked cakes and pastries using only the best of ingredients from the local area. Wine and cocktails. Recycled furnishings and fittings are used wherever possible to decrease our footprint on the world. We also have some of Byron’s best local talent when it comes to music!
What is your most popular dish?
Either our lamb kofta, slow-braised Bangalow pork or our line-caught fish; it’s a close run thing!
What is your personal favourite?
Daniel: Rib-eye of Tyagarah beef with hand-cut chips, marrow and gravy – I’m a carnivore at heart!
James: I would have to say the Bangalow pork belly.
Are your customers mostly local or visitors?
We are slowly gaining some good local support as well receiving a continuous flow of clean plates from happy travellers!
Why do you think people come to your restaurant rather than another?
We’re accessible, our meals are made with quality produce and are great value for money.
How do you cater for diners with special requirements?
Everyone is welcome; there are dishes to suit all. We have a number of vegan dishes, many vegetarian options and a lot of our food is also gluten free. We are also happy to cater for any other specialty dietary requirements.
Is there any feedback that your customers consistently give you?
Empty plates… licked clean at times!
GINGER PIG RESTAURANT Open breakfast/lunch/dinner 7 days. Fully licensed. 85 Jonson St, Byron Bay. Ph: 6685 7320