Samantha Gowing moved from Melbourne to Byron Bay around nine years ago, and has become known as Australia’s leading spa chef, thanks to the wellness and culinary programs and menus she creates for some of the world’s best hotels and spas.
What’s the one ingredient you can’t live without?
I have two - fresh turmeric, and watercress. Turmeric thrives up here in the Northern Rivers. It helps to support your immune system and has an alkalising effect, and houses a powerful substance called curcumin, which has anti-oxidant properties. It’s magical! If I ever cut my finger in the kitchen I rub fresh turmeric on the cut, as it’s great for wound healing too.
Watercress is a true superfood. Its nutrient density is amazing. It’s peppery and really tasty. You don’t need much of it but it does wonders for the body.
What’s your personal favourite way to enjoy a macadamia?
I really like to bash them in the mortar and pestle and then scatter them over a salad. Having said that, you could put a bowl of them just as they are in front of me now and I’d eat the lot! I also love the ones from the Byron Bay Farmers' Market that have been roasted with honey.
Where is your favourite place to eat, anywhere in the world?
There are many. San Francisco and New York are both great. In my hometown of Melbourne, there’s a Vietnamese restaurant called Quan88. It’s the best Vietnamese food – I’ve being going there for 20 or 30 years. Going back there is like coming home. It’s cheap and cheerful, and I’ve never a bad meal there.
What do you like to cook at home?
Anything from a fantastic roast chook to slow cooked corned beef to roasted vegetable salads in the summer. I also love to roast, bake or barbecue sides of fish. Nothing too fiddly – I like big flavours that require little effort. I love Japanese inspired flavours, even for breakfast. One of my favourite breakfasts is grilled fish, brown rice and broccolini. I love how Japanese food is simple but honest with that beautiful salty, earthy flavour.
What is your favourite movie or TV show?
My favourite all-time movie is The Shining! There’s something about that hotel, the Kubrick lighting, the eerie corridors and the incredible bar scenes with that golden hue.
If you were an ice cream what flavour would you be?
Finger lime sorbet.