Elsa Marie and Julian May of Chez Dominique will take up a residency at The Whale Inn in Narooma.

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Chez Dominique | Merivale
📷 Chez Dominique | Merivale

An intimate paddock-to-plate bistro pop-up, Chez Dominique at The Whale Inn will draw on humble French roots with creative seasonal cooking that celebrates local South Coast produce. The French-Australian chef couple, Elsa Marie and Julian May have built close relationships with local farmers, producers, and artisans with whom they will create authentic, fuss-free dishes that let the ingredients speak for themselves.

Vegetables will be the stars of the show, all picked from four local farms that the pair cherish – Borrowed Ground growers, Queen Street growers, Old Mill Road farm, and Stepping Stone farm. Elsa, Julian, and The Whale Inn kitchen team will also be growing and harvesting a variety of vegetables and herbs on site.

Vegetables will be accompanied by fresh, locally-caught whole fish and oysters from Narooma, grass-fed pork and beef raised and butchered by Ian and Rhys Martin of free-range Martin’s Ridge Farm, and duck from the regenerative farm, Tathra Place, in Taralga. Dairy is provided by Tilba and Bodalla farms, fresh eggs will come from the chefs’ chickens, Thelma and Louise, as well as Bega Valley free-range eggs. Sourdough will be baked daily in-house using all organic flours, grains, pulses and sugars.

Julian May and Elsa Marie said: “We have fallen in love with all of the incredible ingredients the Eurobodalla Shire has to offer. We have a strong passion for local, high-quality, sustainable produce and wine, and can’t wait to share our cooking with the local community.”

After more than a decade in renowned kitchens throughout Europe and Australia (Septime, Saint-Europe, Brawn, 10 William Street), including their own acclaimed bistro in the 20th arrondissement of Paris named La Vierge, Elsa and Julian returned to Australia last year. They moved to the South Coast to learn more about organic farming and to give their food a unique meaning. After settling in Moruya and missing being in the kitchen, they launched Chez Dominique, offering private dinners in nearby homes and popping up along the coast, and quickly won the hearts of locals. They will welcome guests to their table at The Whale for the next few months.

Merivale purchased The Whale Inn and Restaurant in June. The accommodation remains open and plans for the evolution of the property will be announced in due course.

The Whale Inn
102 Wagonga Street (Princes Hwy), Narooma NSW 2546, Australia
T: +61 2 4476 2411

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