Destination Dining in Yallingup: The Restaurant, Wills Domain
Wills Domain’s Restaurant overlooks the impressive Gunyulgup Valley and offers one of the best views for lunch time in the Margaret River region. The Restaurant has a refined, industrial feel with a focus on sustainable, wild harvested and farm-grown produce, championed by Head Chef, Seth James.
Seth is passionate about using fresh, sustainably produced ingredients and is on a first-name basis with his suppliers. Whether it’s sourcing abalone from Augusta, the finest Margaret River Wagyu, or sun- ripened produce from Mario’s market garden, they all contribute to his own distinct style of responsibly sourced, modern Australian cuisine.
Wills Domain also boasts a number of onsite gardens which grow much of the more unique produce and offers a rare insight into the depth and lengths the kitchen takes to showcase their very individual, stylish and innovative approach.
THE AWARDS KEEP COMING
With experience under Andrew McConnell at Cutler & Co before branching out on his own at the Aylesbury in his first role as head chef, it wasn’t long before Seth was discovered by Wills Domain. He moved to Margaret River in 2013 adding a string of awards to his name – 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019 WA Good Food Guide Regional Restaurant of the Year, 2018 WA Good Food Guide Best Restaurant of the Year and Regional Chef of the Year 2019, Two Hats in the National Good Food Guide, and a place in The Australian Hot 50 Hall of Fame. Plus, Wills Domain is amongst Australia’s culinary royalty in the Top 15 “Most Delicious” Restaurants in Australia.
“I just love the amazing Western Australian produce, the people and the lifestyle of Margaret River,” explains Seth.
“My inspiration comes from the local region and local produce,” he says. “I source fresh and sustainably-grown produce, always falling back on the elements of environment, ocean, freshness, uniquely local, sustainability and the producer’s own artistry.”
SETH’S TOP 5 FAVOURITE INGREDIENTS
Abalone – Ocean Grown Abalone from Augusta
“We are lucky abalone is available in Western Australia. It’s one of my favourite ingredients to work with due to its fantastic natural flavour and texture and desirability among seafood lovers. Ocean Grown Abalone are a company that delivers sustainably-produced green-lip abalone via sea ranching, that tastes just as good as the wild product, and they take care of the ocean while doing it, “Seth explains.
“When I work with abalone, I like to leave it within its natural surrounds and if I am working with subtle tastes, I prefer to use Asian flavours to showcase the abalone’s natural flavour. International chef superstar, Andre Chiang, was absolutely taken by the sheer quality of this product at our Octaphilosophy Meets Wills Domain dinner during a previous Gourmet Escape event.”
Asparagus from Great Southern
“Asparagus is a great vegetable to work with due to its unique flavour and distinct appearance, especially Torbay Asparagus because their product is crisp, juicy and has a beautiful asparagus flavour and texture. Owners, Phillip and Sheelagh Marshall, are a lovely husband and wife team who started and operated the first commercial a s p a r a g u s farms in WA since 1972.” Seth says.
“I visited their farm and was so impressed by their production systems and quality of land. As long-time growers they really know their product. One of my favourite ways to use it is cooked on the Japanese grill with seafood salts – a combination that tastes amazing!”
White Point Wagyu beef from Augusta
“White Point Wagyu is beyond compare in Margaret River and is really special because it’s only available at certain times of year and in certain quantities making it both rare and unique,” says Seth
“The cattle are free-range and grass-fed which helps give the maximum flavor and texture and leads to happy cattle, grazing lush fields in the pristine Margaret River region. The beef is perfect just on the grill which maintains the juice with a beautiful crust. It doesn’t need much assistance to taste delicious, it just needs to be expertly cooked,” he adds.
“Our Western Australian yabbies are a small, unique freshwater crayfish only found in Australia. They have a sweet flesh and are a little muddier in flavour than marron, so they can hold onto a strong sauce like XO,” Seth explains. “I also like to roll them up like a nori roll with various complimentary flavours.”
Western Australian marron
“Marron is a fantastic ingredient to work with. We have some in the dam here at Wills Domain which I sometimes catch to use for inspiration in the kitchen. When we have it on the menu, we actually source it from Blue Ridge Marron who produce some of the largest live marron in Australia. You don’t need to do much to marron, the simpler the better. “
DESIGNING THE MENU – THE RESTAURANT’S FOOD AND WINE MATCHING PROCESS
“I work in collaboration with our Wills Domain winemaker, Richard, when designing a menu,” explains Seth. “Being a winery restaurant, when we’re putting a new menu together, it’s more a reversal. Richard has a wealth of knowledge, so I sit down and take a look at the wines with him.”
“When we come up with a new dish, I’ve already got the wine match in the back of my mind while we establish how best to compliment it,” Seth says. “Once the dish is perfected, we sit down with different vintages and styles to see that we may need to add or take out – the wines change over time, so the combinations are always evolving. We try to include all of our senior managers in tasting process as multiple palates are better than one.”
START PLANNING A VISIT TODAY
Yallingup means a 'place of love' in the Wardandi Aboriginal language and time spent in this stunning area will show you exactly why. With such an incredible reputation and location, Wills Domain’s Restaurant is a must-do Western Australian culinary and vinous experience, so start planning your visit today. You can reserve your table at willsdomain.com.au.
Check out our latest Wills Domain wines here!