AWARD-winning chef Emma Handley has opened her first restaurant in the Kiewa Valley.
Templar Lodge by Emma Handley opened its doors at Tawonga last month.
Having gained a chef’s hat while working at Villa Gusto at Bright with owners Ben and Kirsten Edwards, Handley was executive chef at Astra Lodge.
She bought a historic Masonic lodge with mountain views on the Kiewa Valley Highway for her first solo venture.
“There are not too many buildings like it in the area,” she said.
“When it came to naming it Knights of the Templar kept popping up.”
Handley offers an innovative menu inspired by local produce with a wine list curated by award-winning sommelier and former colleague Ben Edwards.
Her staff have worked together at Falls Creek and all contributed to the fit-out.
What’s your favourite winter dish?
Milawa Chicken Maryland on our menu
What’s your favourite season?
There is so much I love about every season. I love working with seasonal produce to create new dishes and flavour concepts.
What are the staples in your pantry now?
Pasta, anchovies, San Marzano tinned tomatoes and Mount Buffalo olive oil
What is your earliest cooking memory?
I started my apprenticeship in a Mexican restaurant which pushed me quickly into experimenting with different flavours, spices and concepts from a young age.
Which ingredients do you grow yourself?
Herbs and citrus fruits. Our garden can’t cater for the restaurant yet, but that will be the future goal.
Which six people would you invite to dinner?
My three beautiful kids and my husband plus an empty chair for an unexpected guest; we often have friends popping in for a bite, laugh and one of my husband’s famous home brews!
What is your favourite foodie ritual?
I love getting creative with spices and cooking different Indian dishes or something I haven’t tried before.
What are you bingeing on TV?
I’d rather spend any spare time creating memories with my family or reading a book, especially cooking books!
What did you have for dinner last night?
Panko crumbed West Australian sardines with Parmesan, parsley, rocket, cherry tomatoes and pesto.
What are you drinking at the moment?
181-183 Kiewa Valley Highway, Tawonga
Phone: (03) 5754 4415
It is open Thursday to Sunday from 4pm with Sunday lunches and longer hours from spring.
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