Food@Eumundi owners Scott and Jessica Hardy.
Food@Eumundi owners Scott and Jessica Hardy. John Mccutcheon

Great food lures five-star couple

SCOTT and Jess Hardy are adding some five-star flair to local cuisine.

After honing their culinary skills in restaurants and hotels across Australia and the United Kingdom, the Hardys have gone back to basics, taking their love of food to Eumundi.

Their restaurant Food@Eumundi was established in June 2008 after the husband and wife were inspired by the Coast's abundance of fresh produce.

"After coming back to Australia from London, we spent a weekend visiting family on the Sunshine Coast where we went to the Eumundi Markets and fell in love with the amazing local produce," Scott said.

"We made some inquiries and the restaurant site became available, so we grabbed it."

And with world-renowned foods such as Kenilworth cheeses, Noosa Reds tomatoes, Mooloolaba seafood, pork from Kingaroy and beef from Kilcoy all fresh and readily available, their decision to open a restaurant in Eumundi was no surprise.

"When you go through the market and see such wonderful fresh produce, there is this mental sensation," Scott said.

"It gets the creative juices flowing. I love buzzing around the markets, collecting the seasonal produce."

Scott and Jess were drawn to the hospitality industry for different reasons.

For Scott, the industry allowed him to surf all day and work at night.

On the other hand, Jess was inspired by her Year 10 home economics teacher.

The Hardys met while working at the Hilton Hotel Brisbane in 1999 when Jess was an apprentice pastry chef and Scott was chef de partie.

They married in 2004.

The Hardys have worked in a smorgasbord of fine hotels and restaurants in Australia - Sofitel, Hyatt, Intercontinental hotels and Jupiter's International on the Gold Coast - and the UK - The Oak Room at Danesfield House, The Ivy and The Riverside in Chiswick.

They have worked alongside big-name chefs including Gordon Ramsay, Liam Tomlin, Phillip Johnson, Martin Boetz, John Torode, Guy Grossi, Lorraine Goldsmark and Bill Granger.

Although Scott felt privileged to have worked with such talented people, he welcomes the tree-change in Eumundi.

"Working with such big-name chefs was amazing, though it was intense," he said.

"It was head down, bum up and absorb like a sponge."

Food@Eumundi is the first restaurant they have owned.

"It has definitely been a learning experience for the both of us," Scott said.

"But you feel like you're actually making a difference and not like just a number which is what it's like working in busy five-star restaurants."

The Hardys pride themselves on homemade cooking with all dishes being created in-house, except the bread, which is sourced from an organic bakery nearby.

They use chemical and pesticide-free herbs from their garden.

Although neither is vegan, both chefs enjoy exploring and creating new recipes of this genre and recognise the health and environmental benefits such foods provide. They also cater for dairy-free diets.

"Organic is about the importance of eating consciously, of being aware of what you put into your body and where it came from," Jess said.

"Our restaurant is about creating a connection with the environment."

Scott said the increased popularity of television cooking shows meant Australians were more informed about food culture than the English.

"Australians are much more critical these days," he said.

"Five years ago, someone may have eaten in a restaurant and thought the food was amazing.

"Now they could eat that same dish and think it was just OK."

Jess said she couldn't be happier than working with her husband.

"It's really good fun. We are best mates," she said.

"We balance each other: Scott is so high and super-energetic, and I'm a bit more calm and relaxed."

Scott agreed: "We might squabble but we don't fight.

"Sometimes it steams up in the kitchen and a keg just needs to be let out."

Now well-established here, a sense of community has kept the Hardys in the market town.

Food@Eumundi raised $1400 for the Matt Golinski foundation when it held two fundraising dinners in April, which was Mates for Matty month Australia wide.

"When we arrived in Eumundi, we knew no one but the whole town just took us under their wing," Scott said.


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