While creating a food destination, chef Andrew Saville has turned his North Queensland beach bar and grill into a model of sustainability.

Story By Donna Kelly

It seems, at first glance, an unusual way to decorate a restaurant. But then it fits. Ellis Beach Bar and Grill owner Andrew Saville is keen on sustainability. So what better way to add to the decor than by asking Tangaroa Blue, which operates the Australian Marine Debris Initiative, to deliver any rubbish found along the coast to his far north Queensland establishment?
Fish-nets, buoys and driftwood – they all contribute to the beachy, chilled-out feel. Even the menu folders are made from recycled silky oak and the planters from wood long lost overboard from passing freighters. “Part of my philosophy is about sustainability, recycling what we can, rather than buying new,” Andrew says. “Our decor feels like it is a part of the beach – because it is.”
Andrew is also dedicated to using local producers, changing the menu as the seasons warrant – a challenge, sometimes, in the tropics. “We really have to work with what we’ve got, but we source a lot from a local organic hobby farm, Julatten Earth Food, based in Port Douglas,” he says. “They started out growing just a few herbs for restaurants, but now also supply vegetables, fruit, free-range eggs and honey.
“We also use only Australian seafood where possible – we are in a great region for that – and then meat from the Atherton Tableland behind us. Recently, we started offering gluten, dairy and egg-free desserts from Shirley’s Soul Kitchen in Cairns. They have been very popular.”
And not one to take all the glory, Andrew also serves as provedore to help his suppliers get the word out about their products. “I guess that’s the other side of my philosophy,” he says. “Simple food, great technique and to help as many local producers as possible. It is working really well – we have a great local following now and a reputation for food, not just the amazing location, nestled between the ocean and a pristine rainforest.”

This Story is from Issue #101

Outback Magazine: June/July 2015