Recipe for a Bush Fire


QAGOMA Executive Chef Josue Lopez guest starred on Channel Ten’s MasterChef showcasing his signature Emu dish ‘After the Eucalypt Fire’ available on the GOMA Restaurant‘s Winter menu. We talk to Lopez about his experience in the MasterChef kitchen.

QAGOMA Executive Chef Josue Lopez with MasterChef judges / Photograph: Martin Philbey
QAGOMA Executive Chef Josue Lopez with judges and contestants during Masterchef Series 9 – Ep 22 Pressure Test / Photograph: Martin Philbey


You’ve carved a niche for creating dishes that respond to the surrounding art at QAGOMA, by telling stories through your food. Tell us about the story and inspiration behind the dish you made for the MasterChef Pressure Test – ‘After the Eucalypt Fire’.

The dish is inspired by the Australian landscape and its unique relationship with fire. Fire is what brings both death and new life. It evokes the memory of an Australian bush fire. As chefs, we are still exploring native ingredients in Australian cooking; I want the diner to contemplate ingredients such as bush cherries and myrtles, unique to our landscape. The dish also includes beetroot which while not native, has been ‘Australianised’. View the episode

‘After the Eucalypt Fire’, available from the GOMA Restaurant’s Winter menu / Photograph: Chloe Callistemon © QAGOMA
‘After the Eucalypt Fire’ presented to contestants during Masterchef Series 9 – Ep 22 Pressure Test / Photograph: Martin Philbey

What do you consider the most challenging element of the dish and why?

There are six different textures of beetroot on the plate which are all unique and important to the enjoyment of the dish. Failing to pay close attention to each of these diverse expressions of the ingredient will fail the dish as a whole. It’s about getting to know how far you can explore the different textures, flavours and personalities of the beetroot, while maintaining the integrity of the dish as a whole. View the recipe.


Australian native flora and fauna play a central role on the GOMA Restaurant menu; what draws you to these?

I had a transformative experience at noma (Copenhagen) which at the time was the world’s best restaurant. I realised what set them apart from other top restaurants was their intention to put Scandinavian culture and landscape on a plate. Australian native ingredients are the flavour of our landscape and are truly delicious, all of which deserve to be showcased.

If you had to pick a contestant from MasterChef to join your team, what would you look for?

Working in a kitchen is a difficult career with long hours in a high pressure environment and it requires dedication to see out an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is an important rite of passage to becoming a great chef. I look for common sense and someone’s willingness to learn. I’m not sure you can learn these things, but you can learn almost everything else.

You’ve cooked for heavy weights such as POTUS Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and you’ve won awards and accolades such as two Chef’s Hats and 2016 Citi Chef of the Year; what keeps you grounded?

My wife, family and friends don’t let me get too ahead of myself. It’s important to be humble and I don’t do it alone. I lead a talented team and teamwork is what achieves results.

You’ve just finished your sensory degustation series ‘We Who Eat Together’ with Brisbane artist Elizabeth Willing, exploring the human experience of food culture and eating with all the senses. Your next investigation on the topic of food is a dinner with Delicious Magazine, exploring the theme ‘Wasted’, with a focus on food waste.  What can you tell us about the Delicious dinner and your take on ‘Wasted’?

We are all becoming growingly aware that our cultural behaviours and expectations around ‘perfect’ food and unseasonal availability is creating big issues around food waste. It is most alarming when we live in a world where every day, people die of hunger. So much of the food we throw away can actually be delicious. I am going to be serving a dish of cauliflower stalk cooked in spent espresso coffee grinds. The dinner is actually collaborative with Cameron Matthews (The Long Apron, Spicers Group) who is also passionate about accountability of food waste. We both work with OzHarvest, a charity which deals with combating some of these issues.

What’s coming up at the GOMA Restaurant that you’re excited about?

Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe’ is finally open and we’re so excited to be a part of that. GOMA will be opening until late Wednesday evenings and we wanted to offer Marvel fans an opportunity to linger at the Gallery. We’re hosting the ‘Xanadu Wine Bar’, offering a premium wine and bar food menu in response to this amazing exhibition.

Amy McElhenny is QAGOMA Food & Beverage Services & Events Assistant

GOMA Restaurant

The restaurant’s philosophy is to deliver a dining experience as contemporary and creative as the artwork which surrounds it. Like the best artists, our menu strives to tell stories. With a focus on local ingredients, we work with growers and suppliers to source produce at its peak, profile new ingredients and rediscover forgotten ones. ‘Billabong’ and ‘The sky is falling’ are offered on our Winter menu.
View our menu and wine list

GOMA Restaurant:: ‘Billabong’ – eel, waterlily, onions, sorrel, and beef / Photograph: Mark Sherwood © QAGOMA
GOMA Restaurant: ‘The sky is falling’ – chicken, avocado, macadamia, figs, sprouts, and herbs / Photograph: Chloe Callistemon © QAGOMA


Head to GOMA Restaurant’s Terrace from 3.00pm on Wednesday evenings until 30 August during the ‘Marvel’ exhibition for premium wines and bar food.
View our bar menu

Xanadu Wine Bar: Chicken, truffle, saltbush waffle
Xanadu Wine Bar: Kangaroo corndog, eucalypt
Xanadu Wine Bar: Macadamia gazpacho

Feature image: QAGOMA Executive Chef Josue Lopez with judges during Masterchef Series 9 – Ep 22 Pressure Test / Photograph: Martin Philbey

Throwing cakes


O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism‘ showcases the iconic art of Georgia O’Keeffe, one of the most significant American painters of the twentieth century, alongside modernist masterpieces by the celebrated and pioneering Australian artists, Margaret Preston and Grace Cossington Smith.

United by their love of nature, O’Keeffe, Preston and Cossington Smith developed subjects from their immediate surroundings into distinct interpretations of place.

Margaret Preston, Australia 1875–1963 / Australian Coral Flowers 1928 / Gift of Andrew and Wendy Hamlin 1992 / Collection: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra / © Margaret Rose Preston Estate, licensed by Viscopy, Sydney

Preston articulated the primordial character of the native environment in her pursuit of a uniquely Australian aesthetic, looking at the structural possibilities of her floral motifs, while focusing on design and pattern.

In 2016, author Lesley Harding launched a biographical book at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG), detailing the life and art of the artist, and highlighting recipes from Preston’s own cookbook. The recipes, as well as the stories, are nostalgic and of their time – 1920’s Gatsby-style fare, old-fashioned tea-parties on the cusp of modernity, and of course, lots of cake. 

Drawing on recipes from handwritten books found in the National Gallery of Australia and richly illustrated with Preston’s paintings, prints and photographs, this book sheds new light on the fascinating private life of a much-loved Australian artist. Margaret Preston: Recipes for Food and Art is available online and onsite from the QAGOMA Store.

You can now eat a little slice of history, reimagined with a modern twist.

Throwing Cakes

A little known fact from the bakers’ lexicon, known only to secret few, is that one who makes cakes is ‘throwing cakes’. The term comes from old-school American bakers who would cup a fistful of batter in a big hand, before squishing it out in one swift action, into a cup to bake little cakes. This sounds like enormous fun, unless you’re the poor soul throwing cakes at 3.20am, in a dark and humid bakery, rushing to get the pastries out before dawn’s first customers. 

It turns out it’s not only bakers who throw cakes; there’s an account of Preston who threw a cake at her friend and fellow artist Thea Proctor, as recounted by painter and then gallery director Treania Smith in Margaret Preston: Recipes for Food and Art:

Margaret Preston arrived with a large cake box and immediately asked ‘Have the Trustees [of the Art Gallery New South Wales] been? If so, what did they buy?’ and Thea was forced to tell her that they had been, but they had only bought one of Thea’s paintings. At this, Margaret Preston threw the cake at Thea, turned and re-entered the lift and disappeared like Mephistopheles in a puff of smoke!

Who could dare to deny such a formidable woman; a firebrand who would throw a perfectly good cake at her best friend? What a treat for us at least, that her works were eventually purchased by Australia’s state and national galleries and available for us to enjoy almost a century later.

When QAG hosted the book launch of this entertaining read, QAGOMA’s Executive Chef Josue Lopez was inspired to throw a cake of his own, from one of Preston’s recipes – the Coffee Spice Cake with Mocha Filling.

Enjoy this slice of history, reimagined at the QAG Cafe from 11 March to 11 June 2017, with the ‘Wine and Delights’ offer during ‘Making Modernism’. 

Making Modernism’ draws together around thirty works by each artist from the breadth of their careers and is at the QAG from 11 March to 11 June 2017.

You can also purchase the exhibition publication online and onsite from the QAGOMA Store.

The exhibition is presented by the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Victoria, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, and the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, in partnership with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, and supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Gordon Darling Foundation.

Art so good, you can just eat it up


Humans have a complex relationship with mealtimes; the dining rituals, quirky food hang ups and memories forged in childhood of that one recipe your Grandmother made. Food and art have long been closely connected to pleasure via the senses and often the lines are blurred between the two.

‘We Who Eat Together’ explores the relationship between art and food / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA
‘We Who Eat Together’ explores the relationship between art and food / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

Enjoy a meal at any fine dining restaurant and it can sometimes seem sacrilegious to fork apart an artfully crafted plate, yet we all surrender once our eyes and nose have had the first feast.

In ‘Stroke of Midnight’ old becomes new again / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA
In ‘Stroke of Midnight’ old becomes new again / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

It’s in this fascinating space that Brisbane artist Elizabeth Willing has spent almost a decade exploring our relationship to food and the dining experience. Her work practice has examined gastronomy from various perspectives, incorporating sculpture, installation and performance dining events. Her subject can range from wearable food art, eating disorders and food history, to more nuanced questions about the process of eating, sensuality and sensory pleasure.

Willing, a Fine Art honours student from QUT and awarded the QAGOMA Melville Haysom Scholarship in 2010, has travelled the globe exploring these questions. Her professional development has seen her work with New York artist Janine Antoni (2011), the Experimental Food Society in London (2012) and Thomas Rentmeister in Berlin (2014). This year, after a 12 month post as Australia Council Artist in Residence at the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin (2014-15).

Willing is back in her home town of Brisbane to deliver her latest in a long body of work; a unique multi-sensory degustation dinner named ‘We Who Eat Together’ with QAGOMA’s own culinary artist, Executive Chef Josue Lopez.

GOMA Restaurant, 6.30pm until late
Thursday 23 February 2017


Brisbane Artist Elizabeth Willing and QAGOMA Executive Chef Josue Lopez discuss their ideas and artistic process at the exclusive dinner for ‘We Who Eat Together’ / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA
Brisbane Artist Elizabeth Willing and QAGOMA Executive Chef Josue Lopez discuss their ideas and artistic process at the exclusive dinner for ‘We Who Eat Together’ / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

Lopez has been at the helm of GOMA’s own Restaurant for over four years, receiving multiple awards including two Chef Hat status from the Good Food Guide for his pioneering culinary style. Taking inspiration and context directly from the art around him, Lopez brings an artistic process every bit as informed by sensory exploration as Willing’s. Drawing on ‘coherence and deliciousness’ as his ongoing creative force, his food concepts are designed to tune in to your senses in subtle ways. Josue believes in each element on the plate speaking for itself, while leaving room for the other voices in the dish, which includes the wine. His attention to the senses compliments Willing’s art practice and together they’ve explored their common interests from opposite perspectives.

In a QAGOMA first, as part of the ‘GOMA Turns 10’ celebrations, Willing & Lopez have collaborated to deliver an exceptional dining experience, blending performance art and food. The dinner is their response to the summer exhibition ‘Sugar Spin: You, Me, Art and Everything’, which is a retrospective of GOMA’s most popular artworks and installations over the past 10 years.

Designed to be interactive and spirited, some dishes from ‘We Who Eat Together’ invite the dining audience to eat in unconventional ways / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA
Designed to be interactive and spirited, some dishes from ‘We Who Eat Together’ invite the dining audience to eat in unconventional ways / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

Each of the seven courses includes custom-made artworks, unexpected twists on familiar ideas and cultural explorations; developed by the pair to evoke all the senses and invite the audience to reassess their relationship with mealtimes. A retrospective of sorts, together the pair explore some of their own ideas from their very different journeys with food and some new ideas devised purely for the love of creating an experience for the audience. Be prepared for dishes that evoke strong responses and vivid memories, such as the aching sweetness of your first high-school kiss.

Experiencing unexpected twists on familiar rituals / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA
Experiencing unexpected twists on familiar rituals / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

This dinner is not to be missed; with limited seating and only one performance date announced, you will be guided through each course with live discussion by Josue and Elizabeth.  Packed full of nostalgia, stunning art and food concepts, and genuine surprises, the dinner is designed to be playful, thought-provoking and shared with wonder.

Yering Station Wines / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA
Yering Station Wines / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

‘We Who Eat Together’ is a multi-sensory degustation held in an intimate setting at GOMA Restaurant, 6.30pm until late on Thursday 23 February 2017.
Guests will experience seven courses of gastronomic art, complimented by Yarra Valley wine varieties from QAGOMA’s proud partner, Yering Station.


Contact us prior to booking to discuss any specific dietary requirements:
(07) 3842 9715 or email