Renowned chef takes over Iluka kitchen for one-off weekend
THE Queen of England may have chowed down on his steak and vege, and musical royalty Phil Collins and Andrea Bocelli dined on his watch, but chef Dirk Sigmann has his culinary sights focussed on another crowd this weekend - the Iluka set.
German-born Dirk had been holidaying in the coastal hamlet for the past month in his solar-powered campervan, taking his annual extended break from the kitchen at the Sheraton Mirage in Port Douglas, when he was overcome with the desire to spread some of his finely honed restaurant fare in the Clarence.
Dirk said he was spurred on by Iluka's peaceful location and the daily passage of fishing boats he encountered while relaxing harbourside at Marracas Boatshed Cafe.
Being familiar with seafood from his time in Australia, Dirk approached cafe owner Marika Birta, who was only too happy to seize the rare offer and hand her kitchen over to the internationally trained chef for a special one-weekend-only dining experience.
Dirk, who was made an Australian citizen in 1994, has crafted a special menu which will be available for three sittings only, including two evenings, a first for the daytime cafe.
The well-travelled chef began his career 37 years ago as a 15-year-old, an after-school apprenticeship that saw him fully qualified by 18.
Then the world was literally his champagne oyster, working for the leading hotels in Germany and Switzerland before spotting an opportunity for a sea change - continued for the next 26 years.
"I was reading the news-paper in Switzerland and saw the Park Hyatt in Canberra was advertising for two chefs. Six hundred people applied so I was fortunate to be one of the two chosen."
So with backpack slung over one shoulder and knife bag carefully over the other, Dirk arrived on our shores in 1988, the year the new Parliament House opened.
Dirk was part of the team that catered for Her Majesty's visit when she officially opened the new phase of Australian Government history before going on to work all over the country in fine establishments in Perth, Hobart and the Top End "where I learned to sweat".
His latest base in Far North Queensland has been his home for the past four years but that looks likely to change soon.
"I'm seriously considering making Iluka my next home. I'm coming back in Easter to do another menu for Marika but might be doing a bit of house hunting too."
What's on Dirk's menu
Featuring such delights as Dirk's "not-so" famous seafood chowder, creamy garlic prawns, chilli New Zealand mussels and fresh barramundi in blood orange dressing, Dirk's international training as a pastry chef also comes into play with a madar tej/birds milk chilled custard floating meringue.
This special menu will be available tonight from 5.30pm, Saturday evening and Sunday lunch at Marracas Boatshed Cafe at the Iluka Marina.
Understandably seats are filling fast so secure yours by phoning 6646 6668.