10/04/2007 - 22:00

Local focus for Caves House team

10/04/2007 - 22:00

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The menu at Caves House is the latest element to undergo an overhaul following Seashells Hospitality Group’s renovation to the historic hotel.

Local focus for Caves House team

The menu at Caves House is the latest element to undergo an overhaul following Seashells Hospitality Group’s renovation to the historic hotel.

Taking a broom to Caves House’s kitchen is Jake Drachenberg, who left the exclusive restaurant at nearby Cape Lodge late last month to take up the role as executive chef at the hotel.

Mr Drachenberg has brought with him a passion for using local suppliers.

“I’ve chucked everything out and started fresh,” Mr Drachenberg says.

“I’m going to focus on the produce and doing it simply and doing it well.

“I think that, before, people have bought cheaper cuts of meat and have done more with them to make them taste better.”

Mr Drachenberg has also shifted the ordering from several bigger suppliers out of Perth to using lots of businesses in the South West.

“The South West is brimming with fantastic produce; we have Harvey beef, Oilo Bello olive oil and I’ve just bought some shark that has been caught out the front. A lot of the stuff used to come down in trucks from Perth.”

He admits the change requires more cash and time.

“I’m dealing with 100 suppliers and some of them don’t know if they can drop off their produce this week,” Mr Drachenberg says.

But it pays dividends in terms of quality.

For instance, Mr Drachenberg is ordering in Tahitian limes from a supplier in Pemberton.

“They’re big and juicy and they are the size of lemons,” he says.

But by no means is he looking to convert Caves House’s dining area into the upmarket restaurant, similar to Cape Lodge.

“We are definitely taking it upwards, but this is a pub and people still expect to get their fish and chips and a burger,” Mr Drachenberg says.

“The difference now is that the burgers will be made with premium lamb mince from Amelia Park and the fish will be the shark that is caught out the front.”

Mr Drachenberg has also overhauled the breakfast menu, which was previously a simple offering of a continental or cooked options.

Those options are still there but with Mr Drachenberg’s influences.

The eggs are free range from Margaret River, there’s an omelette with Parisian fetta and ricotta pancakes and Mr Drachenberg is making his own Bircher muesli.

Mr Drachenberg says prices are likely to go up but they will remain competitive at between $20 and $30 a meal.

“The prices have been unrealistically low,” he says.

Mr Drachenberg left Cape Lodge after two years working under Tony Howell.

“It was a tough decision to leave,” he says. “I got to learn from Tony, who is a fantastic chef, but the time had come to take a step up and run my own kitchen.”

Mr Drachenberg has 11 years of experience under his belt, including stints at Flutes, the former Fish House, and Stephanie’s at the Nedlands Park Hotel.

He has also spent time overseas, predominately working in restaurants in Canada before returning to the South West a few years ago, where he gets to spend more time enjoying his favourite pastime – surfing, although he confesses his new job has stolen his attention from the waves.

“At Cape Lodge, we surfed during the day and cooked at night. It was great fun,” Mr Drachenberg says. “Since I started here I haven’t seen the water.”

Mr Drachenberg’s partner, Rebecca Marshall, was recently appointed as Caves House general manager following a two-year stint as the second in charge at Quay West Bunker Bay.

Caves House is set to extend the number of rooms it offers later this year with the development of luxury spa apartments. About 36 rooms are scheduled to open in November and a further 50 rooms expected to open in 2008.

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