In May, QAGOMA welcomed a new Executive Chef, Douglas Innes-Will. Innes-Will’s two decades of experience as a qualified chef have included lead roles at Qualia on Hamilton Island; the two-hatted Spicers Peak Lodge on south-east Queensland’s Scenic Rim; and both Hungry Duck and Paperbark Camp on the NSW South Coast. Following Cyclone Debbie in 2017, Innes-Will was instrumental in reviewing and redesigning operational aspects of the delivery of hospitality at Qualia, and he has catered for numerous VIP corporate clients, weddings and high-profile events. A champion of local and seasonal produce, he has also been a demonstrated mentor to a large kitchen team.
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Innes-Will spoke to Glenda Sue See, QAGOMA’s Food and Beverage Services and Events Manager, about settling in to his new role.
What’s your story so far?
I was born in Cardiff, Wales to Scottish parents. We immigrated when I was two years of age and I grew up at Glamorgan Vale, west of Ipswich, before my family moved to the NSW South Coast when I was 12. I trained in various venues there before returning to Queensland five years ago.
What made you decide to become a chef?
It wasn’t until I completed my apprenticeship that I realised this is what I would do for the rest of my life. This industry has a way of drawing you in, and the characters are very endearing.
What’s your personal food philosophy?
Be respectful, be humble and be generous — all traits instilled in me by different chefs I have worked with in my career. If these are applied to all things in my industry, you can make people very happy.
What have been some of your career highlights so far?
I’ve been fortunate to work in some beautiful locations as a chef and with very talented and passionate people. My three roles leading kitchens in Queensland — Spicers Peak Lodge, Qualia and now QAGOMA — have been equally rewarding in their own way.
What excites you about working in an art gallery environment?
It’s a new and challenging role for me — the environment is creative and inspiring. That’s what attracted me to the role.
Your first GOMA Restaurant menu has rolled out recently. What are some of the highlights?
Now that I’m based in Brisbane, I’m excited about making connections and fostering relationships with local suppliers, while continuing to use some of my favourite Queensland ingredients such as finger limes and coastal greens. The guava, fig, honey and mascarpone dessert is a great example of a seasonal treat for winter, and the Cape York barramundi, salsify, coastal greens and mustard offers wild-caught barramundi, also with limited seasonal availability.
What’s your most unusual cooking experience?
The winter season at Faraway Bay in the Kimberleys. It’s extremely isolated, 177 kilometres from the closest town, near some of the area’s famous Bradshaw rock paintings. We were cooking fresh seafood caught daily and served to guests.
What’s your favourite food to cook at home?
These days I love to cook with my four-year-old daughter. It’s lovely that she derives enjoyment from it, and as a result we get to eat cake.
QAGOMA operates its own restaurant and cafes, using local seasonal produce to create menus inspired by the art on display. Read more on our blog
Glenda Sue See is Food and Beverage Services and Events Manager, QAGOMA
Feature image: Maremma wild-raised duck (port & maple-brined, farmed in southern NSW), cumquat, persimmon, fioretto cauliflower (flowering cauliflower), persimmon & miso gel, tarragon jus, cauliflower puree / Photograph: Chloë Callistemon, QAGOMA