One of our most beloved spots in the Northern Rivers region is Mavis’ Kitchen. Revisiting it, we are interested to see how its legacy is faring.
Set in a beautiful Queenslander at the foot of Mt Warning, Mavis’ Kitchen was founded in 2007 by Peter Clarke and Charlie Ebell. Their original plan had been semi-retirement, with a small restaurant and some accommodation on the property. However, as news of this picturesque venue spread, Mavis’ Kitchen grew to be renowned for its stunning events as much as it was for its delicious rustic food, often enjoyed outdoors surrounded by lush gardens and encroaching rainforest.
For many locals, some of their fondest memories have been spending time with family and friends sipping champagne and dining on rustic food at Mavis’ Kitchen. Whether it be a wedding or family celebration, winter solstice dinner in the fairy light studded barn, or a banquet beside the lake listening to the dulcet tones of opera as evening descended on the rainforest, Mavis’ Kitchen is firmly embedded in collective local memory.
When Peter and Charlie finally decided to retire and sell in 2021, we were curious to see how new owners would deal with that legacy.
Now owned by Alex Framazelle and Dr Zac Turner (who recently moved to the area), Tindal Magnus and Dr Sam McCormack, the transition was eased by retaining Clive Bailey as manager/chef, along with several other staff who had worked with Charlie and Peter.
Mavis’ Kitchen was founded on principles of sustainability, local community and care of the environment, an approach the new owners intend to pursue, ‘nurturing the legacy created by Peter and Charlie and continu[ing] to nurture the land…’ the owners say on Mavis’ website.
On our return to Mavis’ Kitchen, we can see physical changes to the property. Foliage has been cleared to open up the vista a little, more native trees have been planted around the property’s perimeter, gardens have been replanted ready for spring growth and cabins have been renovated. A new bar and storage area has been built downstairs, providing downstairs dining as an option for those with mobility issues, and a new marque is being built between the house and garden to provide a weatherproof area for events.
Working with Tweed Sustainability, more sustainable supply chains have been established with chemical-free producers. Composted restaurant waste and a worm farm provide nutrients for the garden. Recycling and upcycling are also in place. The solar power system has been increased to 145 panels with three inverters, Clive tells us, leading the property step by step towards self-sustainability and a minimal carbon footprint.
The restaurant’s ethos has always been based on a slow food approach built around fresh, seasonal and local produce. It’s rustic cuisine, often woodfired, low and slow for event catering, with produce sourced from the restaurant’s own gardens and local farmers.
“With our gardens still regenerating, we source our produce from local farmers who we know by name, such as Jumping Red Ant Farm, Duranbah,” Clive tells us. “The beef we use is from the butcher’s own cattle, butter from Nimbin Valley Dairy, Bangalor bacon cured by our local butcher…,” the list goes on.
Running four separate menus: Breakfast, A La Carte (lunch), In Room Dining, and Saturday Night Degustation, interest is added by special events, such as a family BBQ on Friday nights and special celebrations. Drop in for morning or afternoon tea and you can enjoy coffee and a slice of homemade cake on the verandah. There’s produce available for purchase as well, such as house-made jams, pickles and Clive’s special BBQ sauce.
With chef Simon Liljeqvist (ex Cucina Buca, Merivale, Lutyens, e’cco bistro) commencing in 2022, the food has gained an added dimension.
“I spent the past four years in Canada,” Simon tells us, adding that during lockdown, particularly, he spent time honing the art of preserving and fermenting.
“I returned to Australia, as my family is here, taking the position of Head Chef at Mavis’ Kitchen a week later,” he says.
We see his ferments silently ageing in jars on top of the wine cabinet: Smoked Bunya Miso, Bonita Garum, Koji Bomba, and Prawn Garum.
Our breakfasts are good examples of the complexity of flavours that these ferments bring.
Scrambled eggs with oyster and king brown mushrooms from Urliup, Wollumbin are topped with wattleseed chilli crisps and baguette is finished with garum and porcini and barley soy on the mushrooms, giving a deep rounded vegetal hit of flavour, the chilli emerging after a few seconds.
Baked Woodland Valley eggs in a cast iron pot with tomato, pigeon beans (grown on the property) and spices includes Koji bomba and garlic. It’s a very different, more complex take on Boston beans!
It’s these centuries old East meets West techniques of gaining depth of flavour that are so interesting and rarely seen in our restaurants.
With new events, menus and improvements on the horizon, Mavis’ Kitchen is moving into new territory while still continuing the legacy established by its previous owners. Hopefully, a new raft of magical memories are waiting to be created for a new generation.
Mavis’ Kitchen, 64 Mount Warning Rd, Uki, NSW Ph: 02 6679 5664
Open: Wed – Fri 10am – 3.30pm; Sat 8am – 8pm; Sun 8am – 5pm. Also open for special events as advertised.
Read more about Mavis’ Kitchen in our previous articles: