EMPIRE Hotel Beechworth is a revolution in pub dining.
Offering three innovative menus – lunch, dinner and bar snacks – seven days, the approach is as fresh as the fusion creations.
Kiwi-born head chef and part-owner Shauna Stockwell, who grew up in Fiji and Thailand, drew on a mighty culinary tradition to springboard into Sydney’s fine dining restaurant scene almost three decades ago.
She worked for Australian chef David Thompson, renowned for his Thai cuisine expertise, and later at hatted restaurant The Bathers’ Pavilion.
“My style has been heavily influenced by my childhood,” she said.
“Growing up in Fiji, we had access to beautiful produce. Then I went from island life to city life when we moved to Bangkok, where I found my passion for Thai street food.
“I love being able to draw on all of my influences and put something cohesive together here.”
Stockwell and long-time friends Andrew Madden and Scott Daintry bought Empire Hotel 12 months ago before opening in mid-October.
Between them, the trio has 90 years’ of hospitality experience in some of the best restaurants and pubs in Australia, the US and Britain.
They have renovated eight bedrooms upstairs, which will open in coming weeks.
What's your favourite spring dish?
Poached snapper, tamarind and ginger flower broth with steamed rice.
What's your favourite season?
What are the staples in your pantry now?
Crushed tomatoes, cannellini beans, black barley.
What is your earliest cooking memory?
I spent my early childhood in Fiji, where lovo (cooking in the ground) was the ultimate special occasion cookery. I loved to help wrap things in banana leaves. There is something comforting about eating food cooked from beneath the ground.
Which ingredients do you grow yourself?
Herbs, lettuce and spring onions.
Which six people would you invite to dinner?
My family – many more than six – who I rarely see!
What is your favourite foodie ritual?
Markets: eating at them; discovering produce; speaking to growers face-to-face.
8) What are you bingeing on TV? If anything.
The Crown, I’m a closet royalist!
9) What did you have for dinner last night?
Baked swordfish, radishes and kale
10) What are you drinking at the moment?
Red wine … by the barrel!
Empire Hotel Beechworth,
10 Camp Street.
Phone: (03) 5728 2743
Open for lunch and dinner, seven days.