The February issue

Our clean eating issue is out now, packed with super lunch bowls, gluten-free desserts and more - including our cruising special, covering all luxury on the seas.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller and receive a free Gourmet Menus book - offer ends 26 February 2017.

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Aaron Turner's new Geelong restaurants

Aaron Turner

Aaron Turner

Aaron Turner is back - for real this time. After closing Loam, his acclaimed Bellarine Peninsula restaurant, in 2013, Turner left Victoria for an extended break overseas, a hiatus he punctuated by teaming up briefly with his friend and fellow chef Morgan McGlone last year to open Melbourne diner Belle's Hot Chicken. Now the young talent is back on our shores to stay, with not just one but two restaurants set to open in Geelong in the coming months.

The Hot Chicken Project, the first of the ventures, will open in May with a menu that's not a huge leap from the one Turner helped design at Belle's. He spent much of his time in the US in Nashville, where he developed a burning passion for the city's signature cayenne-spiced hot chicken, and that's again the focus here, along with southern-style sides. "The menu format is the same as any hot chicken joint in Nashville," Turner says. "It's just something I really enjoy making and it's delicious."

He characterises the drinks list he and his partners have in mind as "booze for the people". It takes in the natural wines Turner himself likes drinking, but not in a doctrinaire way, and they're a part of the package rather than its sole focus. "I just want good booze, by good people", he says, citing the local pinot noir from Anthony Brain's Livewire project as a likely inclusion.

The second of the restaurants, Igni, a 50-seater slated to open in spring, is more ambitious - something of a return to the style of food he was doing at Loam when it was named the GT Regional Restaurant of the Year in 2012. Turner says he wants it to be much more relaxed for the diner while maintaining the same high standards in the kitchen. He's teaming up with ex-Loamers Andrew Hamilton and Joanna Smith for the venture, so the approachability and the quality of the service are as central to the business plan as the cooking, he says. "We're just going to get the bar-vibe happening, stick a char-grill in there and see what happens."

Eager to discard the trappings of fancy-restaurant culture, Turner is focused on making the most of a simple, usable space. "It's just a simple black building that backs onto a Bikram yoga place," he says. "We're thinking about putting in a window so everyone can watch."

Could this be Geelong's time to shine? Turner is philosophical. "Well, if nothing else, it's a good place to stop on the way to and from Brae."


Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
Toby Wilson, Sean McManus and Jon Kennedy to open Bad Hombres
What’s happening in South Yarra?
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s chef collaborations
Hot Plates: Long Chim, Melbourne
Eleven Bridge’s bar menu returns
Hot Plates: Vaquero Dining, Albion
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
Recipe collections

Looking for ways to make the most out of seasonal produce? Want to find a recipe perfect for a party? Or just after fresh ideas for dessert? Either way, our recipe collections have you covered.

See more
2017 Restaurant Guide

Our 2017 Restaurant Guide is online, covering over 400 restaurants Australia wide. Never wonder where to dine again.

See more

You might also like...

Australian chefs to follow on Instagram in 2013

There are a lot of food shots on Instagram: the good, the ba...

Where our chefs want to eat

We asked Australia's leading chefs to name the restaurants t...

Hot 100 2015 - Restaurant news

The world is getting hotter and we’re not talking about glob...

What the hell is Gelinaz anyway, and why is it shuffling?

On the eve of the second outing of one of the world’s strang...

Grant Achatz interview

Pat Nourse talks to the chef of Chicago’s Alinea ahead of hi...

Nahm named best restaurant in Asia

The 2014 50 Best Restaurants in Asia were unveiled this week...

Restaurants cooking with seaweed

With its complexity in flavour and texture, seaweed is the c...

On the pass

Tell us about Tomahawk’s menu, Ali...

S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015

A mighty fine plate of beef short ribs with roast celery vin...

Dan Barber talks sustainable food

Farm-to-table is a neat catchcry but, argues Dan Barber, one...

Alessandro Pavoni, Ormeggio, Sydney

You’ve just released your first cookbook, a tribute to Lomba...

The 2016 GT Restaurant Guide Top 100

Here's the list of our 2016 Restaurant Guide Top 100. How ma...

First look: 108 at Noma, Copenhagen

Rene Redzepi may be headed to Sydney next month, but he's ba...

Party-starting playlists

Music is a key ingredient that can turn your party from good...

Edible seaweed guide

With its complexity in flavour and texture, seaweed is the c...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.