Five minutes with: Gaia Retreat & Spa’s head chef Dan Trewartha


Gaia Retreat & Spa - MiNDFOOD
Nestled on 25 acres in the breathtaking Bundjalung Country hinterland of Byron Bay, Gaia is one of Australia’s most awarded boutique lifestyle pamper retreats.

With a healthy Spa Cuisine approach to wellness, chefs work with the freshest organic produce available from Gaia’s own garden, the orchards and plantations of the NSW Northern Rivers region, as well as from local farmers and providores.Dan Trewartha


What do you love most about your role at Gaia?

What I love most is that no two days are the same. We create different menus each day, and this creative process is what I enjoy. Having access to and using amazing produce, and the guest feedback, also make my job rewarding.

Tell us about your philosophy when it comes to food.

My philosophy when it comes to food is a wholefoods approach. A diet using a vast variety of fresh, unprocessed, seasonal and organic ingredients. Everything in moderation and no refined foods. Also, lots of exercise and listening to your body to figure out what works for you.

What’s the best response you’ve had to your cooking?

The best response to my cooking is when a guest says: “That was the best salad, or best dessert, I have ever had!” It doesn’t get better than that!

How important is it to have a farm-to-table philosophy?

Farm to table philosophy is very important as it means we get the freshest, tastiest seasonal produce quickly with minimal food miles. Our guests can taste the difference.

What produce are you loving cooking with at the moment?

Produce that I am loving at the moment is beautiful summer corn, baby corn and corn sprouts. Also, the abundance of summer fruits are a joy to work with this time of year.

What can we expect from the Gaia menu in 2016?

For our 2016 menus we will still be following a wholefoods approach using fresh, seasonal organic produce in creative ways. Can’t wait!


Dan Trewartha’s Roasted Poussin on Cauliflower Puree with Borlotti Beans, Pea & Fennel Ricotta Salad

Dan Trewartha’s Roasted Poussin on Cauliflower Puree

Serves 4

  • 4 poussin (baby chicken)
  • 1/2 cauliflower (2 cups), diced
  • 1 leek, washed well and diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced,
  • 1 green chilli, sliced,
  • ½ bunch lemon thyme
  • 12 whole fresh borlotti beans, podded
  • ½ cup peas (frozen)
  • 1 fennel bulb, fronds reserved
  • ½ cup ricotta crumbled
  • 4 sprigs lemon balm, leaves picked
  • 4 sprigs mint, leaves picked
  • ½ cup lemon aspens (native berry or preserved lemons)
  • 1 lemon zest and juice
  • ¼ bunch parsley, chopped
  • ¼ bunch chives, sliced
  1. Remove neck and wish bone from chickens. Slice the breasts from chicken frames, and trim wing tips. Slice thighs and legs (marylands) from chicken frames. Discard frames and trimmings or save for a stock.
  2. Marinate breasts and marylands with some sliced garlic, the sliced green chilli, some lemon zest, lemon thyme and some olive oil. Leave minimum 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Sweat the leek and some garlic with sea salt and cracked white pepper in ghee in a small saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes. Add cauliflower and sweat for another 5 minutes. Cover cauliflower with water and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain reserving the cooking liquid. Puree with a squeeze of lemon juice, a little of the reserved liquid and a pinch of sea salt until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Keep warm.
  4. Meanwhile, boil borlotti beans until tender (approximately 10 minutes). When tender, drain and while hot, toss with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, cracked black pepper, chives and parsley. Keep warm.
  5. Blanch peas in boiling salted water for one minute; drain and add to beans.
  6. Meanwhile, brush marinade from chicken. Season chicken skin and barbeque skin side down for 5 minutes or until skin is golden brown. Turn and cook for two minutes then finish in a 180-degree oven for 5 minutes or until juices run clear when leg/thigh pierced at thickest point. Rest in a warm spot.
  7. Meanwhile, halve lemon aspen berry and remove pith and seeds, or remove pith from preserved lemon and julienne skin finely. Shave fennel bulb as thinly as possible with a sharp knife or mandolin.
  8. On large warm plate smear some cauliflower puree from one side to the other. Place two small mounds of chicken halves at each end of puree. Scatter with borlotti beans, peas and ricotta.
  9. Drape shaved fennel over the top of chicken and sprinkle lemon aspens or preserved lemon around the dish. Scatter with mint, reserved fennel fronds, and lemon balm. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil and serve.

For more deliciously healthy recipes from Gaia Retreat & Spa, pick up Gratitude Cookbook, composed by head chef Dan Trewartha:



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