Oh Damien how we’ve missed you! Since Burleigh’s beloved The Fishhouse closed down for development (no, we’re not over it), Head Chef Damien Styles had left a hole in the Gold Coast dining scene. So we were jumping for joy to see Damien recently head up Broadbeach’s new Mediterranean-inspired restaurant and bar, Sofia’s. Expertly running and educating teams of chefs at some of Australia’s best restaurants from Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast, we sat down for a chat with Damien about his career to date, what’s in store for the upcoming year and his favourite spots to visit on the Gold Coast.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I came to the Gold Coast in 2018 when I took the position of head chef at The Fishhouse in Burleigh Heads and to be closer to my beautiful son Otis.
What do you love most about living here?
Growing up in Noosa, the Gold Coast offers me the same beach culture that I grew up with and the ocean has always given me an energy that fulfils my life.
Tell us about your chef journey thus far.
My career spans over 30 years of working in fine establishments trying to become the best that I can be at my chosen craft. When people ask me what is your favourite thing to cook, my answer is always “food”, it’s what I do and what I love.
What’s your proudest chef moment?
Opening Charcoal Lane in Melbourne for Mission Australia mentoring young Aboriginal adults and enabling them to become amazing young chefs. Also obviously winning two chef hats at The Fishhouse made me feel good to be recognised for cooking quality food.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw most of my inspiration from myself by always wanting to improve every dish I create, to make it better than the last time I served it. Also my love of all things seafood and using Mother Nature’s bounty.
What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
Slow cooked lamb roast and veggies because I can bang it in the oven, have a few beers and four hours later it’s ready and tasty!
Tell us about Sofia’s.
Sofia’s is a wonderful place where you can come for a quick bite or sit and have a long lunch with tasty snacks and an impeccable wine list, great service and accommodating staff that will tend to your every need and desire.
What else is in the works for you in 2021?
I have been doing some consulting on the side because I feel after Covid I have a calling to help restaurants become better at what they do and with my experience, I feel I can offer a world of knowledge and guidance to them.
What are your predictions for SE QLD’s foodie scene over the next few years?
Simplicity is key, source good products from reputable suppliers and don’t make it to fluffy.
Any advice for someone wanting to become a chef on the Gold Coast?
Come and see me first and I will help you find the right place that suits your needs and desires.
Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Café for breakfast: Commune in Burleigh
Coffee: I have a coffee at home, drop my son to school and then I have a coffee at Sofia’s each morning 🙂
Restaurant for dinner: Oi Izakaya in Burleigh is amazing I eat there at least two times a week and the yaki soba is outstanding!!!
Bar or pub for a drink: I really like Coda in Broadbeach, they are always welcoming and have Kirin on tap.
How does your weekend usually look? When I get one I love hanging out with my son Otis.