Chat with a chef: Josh Harris spruiks Australian tuna as ‘best in the world’
Josh Harris is the head chef of Spice Bar restaurant, Mooloolaba, serving up fresh fusion cooking with chilled wine and sea views. Josh was previously head chef of the two-hat Era Bistro restaurant in Brisbane and has been a finalist for Australia’s Best Hotel Chef in the HM Hotel and Accommodation Excellence Awards. We spoke with Josh about his love of cooking (and eating) tuna and passion for sustainably-caught seafood.
How did you get started in the cooking world?
When I was young, I started working in a mate’s kitchen in Brisbane. Then I moved abroad and lived in London for a couple of years and worked under a couple of world-class chefs. When I returned to Australia, I settled down in Brisbane, where I again worked alongside some top chefs.
How’s life on the sunny coast? Is it everything they say it is?
Definitely and more! Life on the Sunshine Coast is fantastic. There are great beaches, great people, and great weather. There is also amazing sustainable local produce served by great restaurants.
What do you love about cooking with tuna?
For me, tuna is a very versatile fish. It is very underrated by a lot of people as many people just do not know how to prepare and cook it. When people think about tuna they automatically think of just sashimi. However, there is so much you can do with tuna with a bit of knowledge and skill. For instance, you can pan-sear it, confit it, and make great sauces. Personally, I love all the offal that comes from it as well.
Tuna is also high in a lot of trace elements and vitamins that are essential to us as humans. Not to mention ‘omega 3’ fat and flavour as well. It is a great fish!
What would you say to chefs or the public about using tuna?
Don’t be scared to try new techniques or dishes. Tuna is a sensational and very versatile piece of meat. Do a bit of research, experiment, and have some fun.
What’s your favourite way to prepare tuna?
Raw. I like getting really good quality soy sauce, freshly grated ginger, and a little bit of heat from togarashi spice or wasabi, and serving it with some nice big chunks of raw tuna...absolutely sensational. I also enjoy confit tuna turned into mayonnaise for a classic Italian dish called vitello tonnato.
Do you get positive feedback from customers about the tuna that you’re dishing out?
Definitely. Being based in Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast, the yellowfin tuna that comes out of these waters is highly prized and held in high regard. People come from near and far to eat some of the best tuna in the world that comes out of these waters and they keep on coming back.
In 2020, Tuna Australia achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery. What do you see as the importance and benefits of this certification?
Tuna Australia members stand to gain a lot from this MSC certification. There are so many chefs in Australia and around the world that only use sustainably caught and sustainably farmed produce. For Tuna Australia members, I think the sky is now the limit. It is a great feather in their cap to be able to advertise to chefs, restaurants, and the wider community that their produce is MSC certified.
As a chef, how does it make you feel knowing the provenance of the tuna and that it’s been sustainably caught?
In the last seven to eight years of my career, I have chosen to only source sustainable seafood and meat. It is something very important to me to ensure future generations have the opportunity to enjoy what we get to enjoy now. The only thing you need to choose is sustainably caught seafood—it tastes better and it will be there for generations to come. It’s a no brainer.