THIS AND HAT: Charles-Etienne Pretet and Merindah Byrne Pretet inside their restaurant The French Pan Tree in Yamba.
THIS AND HAT: Charles-Etienne Pretet and Merindah Byrne Pretet inside their restaurant The French Pan Tree in Yamba. Ebony Stansfield

Yamba restaurant receives prestigious award

WHEN The French Pan Tree head chef and co-owner Charles-Etienne Pretet opened an email on January 1, he was stunned to see he's been awarded a prestigious chef hat.

After only being open for five months, The French Pan Tree is now the only restaurant in the Clarence Valley to have been awarded the hat, given out by the Australian Good Food and Travel Guide.

"I was pretty surprised in a good away, it came out after a big service for New Year's Eve,” Mr Pretet said.

"It took a few days to realise that this really is happening.”

Australian Good Food Guide inspectors dine anonymously and mark the dishes on six key attributes out of the 20 hats, based on the 'Michelin' model of rating.

"You don't know who they are, when they come, you don't know anything. They just send a food critic, and they come and judge your food,” Mr Pretet said.

The restaurant was awarded a '12' chef hat meaning they are commended - a good restaurant in its category.

Mr Pretet's restaurant takes a modern approach to traditional recipes and techniques of French cuisine mixed with influences from local produce and the area.

The French Pan Tree menu changes depending on what's in season and the availability from the farmers and local fisherman, with 70 per cent of his produce direct from the Clarence Valley.

"I arrange trading weeks to start on the Wednesday, after closing Tuesday, to start fresh on Wednesday with the week with the farmers market, so I can find what is in season, what kind of vegies I can do during the week.”

Mr Pretet was born and raised in Paris where he previously owned his own restaurant, which was located next to the Louvre.

His food journey began watching his mother cooking in the kitchen, and his knowledge of produce came from his grandfather.

When he met his wife and co-owner of the restaurant Merindah Byrne Pretet in Paris, they decided to move to the north coast of NSW where she grew up to begin their dream of opening a French restaurant in Yamba.



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