From Maccas to Modern Art: Food So Good, It Belongs in a Gallery
For Josh Lopez, everything he cooks has a story. As the executive chef at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Josh’s dishes are a reflection of his surroundings and inspired by both the latest exhibitions and local produce.
Having done a stint in Gordan Ramsey’s London restaurant, Maze, and Noma in Copenhagen, which is currently ranked among the top five restaurants in the world, he said it’s the local produce of his adopted home, Brisbane that he wants to showcase.
“I knew when I came back to Australia I’d want to cook things that were very close to Brisbane or reflective of Australia, that are iconic or have a nostalgic connection,” he said. “The thing about us as a nation, is that we’re willing to give things a go. I think Australian’s are really open to new things and that means as a chef that you can be really creative.”
And those dishes include anything from using locally raised squab (young pigeon) to his much loved ‘plate of bait’, made up of over-looked foods like pippies, squid and sardines.
Though he was named Brisbane Times’ Good Food Guide’s Chef of the Year last year, Josh said cooking was a career he fell into by accident.
Having been born in El Savador, he credits his mother’s vibrant meals and her fresh, home-made salsas, avocado and an array of local produce as a reason he developed a love of good food. And it was his beginnings at McDonalds that taught him about the camaraderie of the kitchen.
“I believe that if you teach someone how to cook, it’s a skill for life. It can be really rewarding knowing how to eat well and nourish yourself,” he said. “Some of my best life experiences have been at the kitchen table or me cooking for people. It’s so rewarding when people really taste the love you’ve put into a dish – there are few feelings like that.”
Check out Josh’s devilishly indulgent suckling pig recipe here