Thursday, June 6, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Meet The Head Chef San Maere At The Palms Restaurant & Bar Colonial Palms Motor Inn

Originally from New Zealand, San Maere and his family emigrated to Australia when he was six years old.

It wasn’t until San moved to Airlie Beach in 1993, however, that his love for food and passion for cooking was ignited.

In the early 90’s, San joined some of his friends and they all began their cooking journey together on Hamilton Island.

Hamilton Island was in a very progressive stage at that time and San was lucky enough to work alongside some prestigious Master Chefs who inspired him and taught him work ethics that keep him humble to this day.

“When I started my culinary journey on Hamilton Island, I spent many years over there so that kept me grounded during those infant years of cooking and from that I was able to scale then be sent across this country,” said San.

“Rubbing shoulders with some great chefs, gave me the confidence to grow and then travel south.

San travelled through Melbourne and Adelaide before arriving in Perth.

It was two years ago when San returned to Airlie Beach, bringing with him all the skills and experience he developed from travelling the country and working at some incredible restaurants.

Gaining experience in Australia’s biggest hotel chains, QANTAS airline catering, and in the mining industry, San has now joined the team at epochal Hotels - Australia’s newest hotel brand - with iconic venues along the east coast of Australia from Freshwater to Manly, Merewether, McMahon’s Point and the Whitsundays with Colonial Palms Motor Inn and their new Hook Island Resort Development, opening soon.

Now, Head Chef at Colonial Palms, San has been in this position since February and loves sharing his insight and experience in the kitchen.

The Palms restaurant kitchen has three chefs, and with a combined 107 years of experience the food is immaculate, especially with San’s new menu which has been created with local produce in mind.

“The menu itself is going to reflect some great dishes that have been fine-tuned,” said San.

“It’s the history of meals, we are just recreating the same thing over and over and it's keeping within the cultural lifestyle of Airlie Beach.

“Cooking is always refreshing ideas that have worked in the past, it's taking traditional techniques and bringing them into 2024, 2025, springing them into this new era.”

With a diverse team of different nationalities, San said they are able to grow as a team and he is continuing to learn, despite having all this experience.

“You’re always a student of the industry, you’ve got to absorb, got to be able to change when the time has changed,” San added.

“Cooking also bridges the gap, it brings families to the table, it brings people to connect - you have meaningful relationships and food expands people, it changes the behaviour of people, that's what food does.”

San Maere, Photo credit: Daniel Heggie

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