What are Brisbane’s Best Chefs Really Eating? David Pugh

Featured image David Pugh
David Pugh, photo by Dan Fidler

In this ongoing series, Brisbane’s favourite chefs dish up their own dining deets for MyBrisbane readers. Where do they eat out? What do they recommend? What do they cook at home? And what secrets from their own menus are they willing to share with us? Dan Fidler investigates.

If there is a single name synonymous with fine dining in Queensland it would be David Pugh.  The world-renowned chef, formerly of lamented icon Restaurant Two, is unabashedly Queensland first. David has been championing our state’s produce and producers for much longer than it’s been trendy to do so.

It’s an ethos that has seen him crowned Queensland Ambassador Chef four years in a row and named last year’s  #eatqld champion for focusing on local produce at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC), where he’s been Executive Chef since the beginning of 2019.

It’s an unusual approach for a convention centre to dish up ethical, seasonal, and healthy food done with a light touch instead of deep fried everything. It’s especially refreshing when you consider that BCEC hosts 1,200 events each year. It’s testament to BCEC’s proud heritage of sourcing almost all of its produce locally.

Under David’s hand, BCEC sources and provides the very best of available and accessible local seasonal produce, procuring all of its chicken, 90% of its beef and 80% of its vegetables from the far north of Queensland, west to Chinchilla, east to the Fraser Coast and south to the New South Wales border.

You’ve got to wonder what a chef who oversees 1.2 million meals a year eats when he’s not on the clock… Let’s find out.

When you’re not at work, where’s your favourite place to eat out?

Yum Yum Peking Duck at Darra. I like their hospitality style; everyone is treated like they are part of the family.

Recommended dish?

My go-to dish is the amazing steamed barramundi with a side of garlic snake beans. It’s perfectly cooked with a fragrant broth.

What do you cook for yourself at home when you’re tired or rushed?

Gluten free sausages and buttery mash, with some steamed greens – an old family favourite.

What’s the best bang for buck dish at BCEC right now?

The Queensland pork belly with parsnip and maple pumpkin puree, baby carrots, peas, caramelised apple and smoked garlic chutney and cider sauce. It is a beautifully balanced dish and is available at Olio Café and Bar in the Centre’s Grey Street Foyer.   

What should we absolutely try at BCEC?

The Fraser Isle spanner crab with macadamia milk, avocado, sea vegetables and pickled daikon. It is a dish which epitomises all things Queensland.

Enjoying this series and want to read more? What are Bacchus’ Massimo Speroni and The Wolfe’s Josh Lopez really eating?