Tara Tempts With Fresh Flavours At Mavis’ Kitchen & Cabins


The new head chef at Mavis Kitchen & Cabins launched five Silk Street Food restaurants in Croatia before opting for the serenity of the northern NSW hamlet of Uki.

 Born in Switzerland with Chilean, Croatian and Australian ancestry, Tara Bandack is spinning heads and tantalising tastebuds as she prepares for a summer of fresh flavours.

Heading to Mavis’ Kitchen after working at Three Blue Ducks in Byron, her eyes brighten as talk turns to the new menu where a slow cooked ‘tender as butter’ local pork chop and Morton Bay bugs with formatted chilli pappardelle are just a sample of what’s to come.

There’s an incredible vegan chickpea fritter with veggies fresh from the garden, pickled and preserved, grilled tiger prawns with kosho and curry butter, and fresh oysters to enjoy in the sunshine.

“We are blessed in Australia with the benefit of having all of the seasons which means a tailored menu with the freshest in-season produce,” says Tara.

“We try to use homemade things in our cooking and use local produce to reduce our footprint. We can grow anything here and nothing needs to be imported. It’s all on our doorstep.”

Called ‘Sarge’ by the staff given her strict, no-nonsense approach in the kitchen, today she’s cool as a cucumber, taking Ocean Road on a tour through the gardens brimming with vibrant veggies.

“I like Arabic and Mediterranean influences and spices, all those amazing colours, mixed with the freshest veggies from this garden,” she says.

“I always see myself as a customer and understand what the expectations are. When I’m in the kitchen, I’m intensely focused on the task at hand. Our customers expect the best and it’s not a responsibility I take lightly. So, we make sure we’re always getting feedback on what we’re doing.”

In 2015 Tara accepted an internship at the luxury Byron at Byron, but a bout of homesickness saw her heading back to Europe, this time to Croatia to set up a family restaurant business.

What started as a single venture based on Asian-fusion inspired cuisine, soon expanded to five restaurants and the budding entrepreneur sunk her teeth into the family-owned Silk Street Food business.

“My mother is an interior designer and graphic designer, and my father a photographer, so I was raised in a creative household,” she says.

“In many ways it’s like cooking, starting with a blank canvas and creating something special that people can enjoy.”

On-site horticulturalists ensure the gardens surrounding the restaurant are flourishing and nourishing, with the produce thriving on subtropical rain, sunshine, organic fertilisers and plenty of TLC. Chefs can often be seen out in the garden, picking the produce for the day.

Mavis’ Kitchen & Cabins owner Tindal Magnus says the traditional hospitality for which Mavis’ Kitchen has become famous, is as buoyant as ever.

“When people arrive, we ask them where they have travelled from and invite them to relax, and to take a walk around the gardens. If one of our horticulturalists are here they are always  happy to take people on a tour,” she says.

“Parents can relax with a herbal tea, wine or cocktail, get a great seat with the kids in sight in the playground and just enjoy the experience. It’s also pet-friendly – we love dogs and find it’s a huge drawcard for people.”

The seafood is fresh from Wilkinson Seafood on the Gold Coast, while the pasta is home-made from down the road at Murwillumbah Pastabah.

Sumptuous meats from local farmers are prepared in the onsite smoker including lamb, chicken, beef and pork with smoky South American spices, or another local favourite – whole pumpkins  stuffed with a pilaf of freekeh, almonds and spices.

With fresh fruit grown in orchards on the premises and blended into cocktails, coffee roasted at nearby Bastion Lane Espresso in the 109-year-old heritage listed Uki Post Office, and manuka honey from locals Honey by Buzzz, sustainability is at the forefront of the Mavis’ Kitchen & Cabins philosophy.

It also specialises in functions, so if you’re looking for somewhere a little special for that festive Christmas staff party, book now to avoid missing out.

Ocean Road has already secured a long table for a long lunch. I placed my order early – coal grilled barra with broccolini and celeriac X.O, paired with a bottle of Clare Valley Tim Adams pinot gris.

The Pantry by Mavis

Mavis’ Kitchen & Cabins has extended its culinary offering with a bite-size café nestled in the main street of Uki.

The boutique eatery opened in July and caters for locals and visitors with the team from the award-winning Mavis’ Kitchen restaurant, creating new dishes daily.

Burgers include The McMavis (beef pattie, cheese, pickles, tomato, salad leaf, burger sauce); The Big Bird (crumbed chicken, lettuce, roasted garlic aioli and tomato) and The Barra (delicious, crumbed Barramundi with home-made tartare sauce).

An array of sweet treats is also on offer, along with brekky rolls and freshly squeezed fruit juices and smoothies.

Owner Tindal Magnus says the concept for the café was an extension of the restaurant, with the same fresh produce sourced from the organic gardens and orchards.

“We are constantly doing ‘temperature checks’ with our customers to find out what it is they like,” she says.

“Pantry by Mavis provides hearty and simple cooking. We make daily offerings of take-home dinners using the freshest of produce. Curries, pastas, smoked meats with garden veggies, chef’s sausage rolls – always stuffed with Mavis’ garden produce. Have a fresh lunch or a grab-and-go option to reheat at home or put in the freezer for another time. It caters to locals and people passing through who are looking for a quick bite.”

The cute-as-a-button café is welcoming with a comfortable vibe, while a splash of colour adorns the walls with paintings by local artist David Preston.

Visit: https://maviseskitchen.com.au/