The extraordinary Executive Chef of QAGOMA, Josue Lopez, is a busy man. Taking a restaurant from one hat to two is no mean feat, yet he managed it with aplomb in the 2016 Good Food Guide Awards, taking out Chef of the Year while he was at it.
Over the past year Josue Lopez has cooked for Barack Obama and other world leaders during the G20 Leaders Summit, taken on the role of food ambassador for the Scenic Rim and hosted innumerable dining events. How does he do it? We investigate an average day in the life of one of the country’s busiest chefs.
A typical day for Josue, unsurprisingly, starts early.
“I like to wake up early and enjoy breakfast and watch the morning news,” he says. Following this is a spot of exercise — but not your typical gym routine. Nope, not a gym or scrap of lycra in sight for Josue. He enjoys a three kilometre longboard skate to work.
What does a high profile chef eat for breakfast?
“My favourite breakfast is pizza.” Come again? That’s right — the city’s best chef is quickly becoming the coolest too. Not only does he longboard to work, he eats pizza for breakfast. “It wouldn’t be uncommon to eat pizza three times a week either freshly baked or leftovers,” he says. “Otherwise it’s a common Italian breakfast of pastry and coffee.”
First thing that happens when you get to work?
“My work day begins with team meetings, checking emails, running some reports.” That’s a relief — it gets real even for Josue. “In the kitchen we’re preparing for lunch, our major service period, making sure the components for dishes are ready.”
What special projects are you working on now?
“I am currently developing a suite of dishes which take their inspiration from our upcoming APT8 exhibition.” The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial exhibition starts in November this year and will ‘reflect the vigour of expanding creative centres throughout Asia and the Pacific’. Josue will also be focusing on the APT8 Kids program, so we can hardly wait to see what creative concoctions come from the QAGOMA kitchen.
What food/drinks sustain you during the day?
Although a busy day for Josue means he doesn’t get a chance to sit down and eat, we can rest assured that he will do a lot of tasting — quality controlling the food preparation. “I am often seen to have a 3pm pick up of an energy drink after an intense lunch service,” he admits.
What ingredients are you looking forward to using this spring?
“Spring is the season to celebrate the plethora of fruits and vegetables fresh out of harvest. Think sweet greens, delicate edible flowers and beautiful berries.” Delicious! Book me a table for one right away, please.
What is the best way to unwind after a busy day?
Ever a man after our own hearts, Josue keeps it very real after a hard day’s work. “I am a bit of a sports fanatic so catching up on any of the day’s results, a refreshing brew and a hearty meal is my best revive plan.”
Words by Alice Thompson | Images by QAGOMA