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Harry Pearce is one part of the dynamic family team who brought us much-loved trattoria and bar, Lupo. Harry is one of the Gold Coast’s most talented young chefs; though, who in all of his genuine humbleness, would never allude to that fact. Harry is a complete chiller, charismatic and oozing with unpretentious charm.
It’s quickly apparent that Harry isn’t in the hospitality industry for stardom and fame, simply to pursue a calling in the kitchen and provide customers with a welcoming, laid back experience, free of complicated choices, uncomfortable seating or bs. We asked Harry to tell us his favourite local dining experiences and other gems he’s loving right now.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE ON THE COAST TO ENJOY BREAKFAST AND COFFEE?
My favourite place to go for coffee and something to eat in the morning is Burleigh Baker. I usually go a couple of times a week. They do the best sandwiches in town, the black coffee is delicious and the staff are always friendly and genuine.
AND A CASUAL DINNER WITH MATES?
If I were going out with friends for dinner, I would definitely choose to go to Francies Pizza in Coolangatta. I think they actually do the greatest pizza in the world. I love how simple and welcoming the shop is, Tony and Claudia are amazingly hospitable, and it's always a great time there. Francies is the perfect neighbourhood pizza shop.
WHAT ABOUT WHEN YOU’RE TREATING YOURSELF?
For a special occasion, it’s pretty hard not to go to Rick Shores for lunch on a Sunday. The view is obviously amazing, it's always a fun atmosphere, the wine list is great and the food is always super delicious.
IF YOU’RE OUT FOR DRINKS, WHERE DO YOU LOVE TO GO?
If I’m going out for a drink, which I tend to do from time to time, I’ll probably start at Rosella's and drink some exciting wines that I’ve never had before at the bar, and then make my way to Cambus or Après. I really like the comfort and familiarity of small neighbourhood bars and feel very much at home at all three of those.
WHEN FRIENDS VISIT THE GOLD COAST, WHAT’S YOUR FIRST STOP?
If friends visit the Gold Coast, the first place I usually take them is to Mt. Lebanon Deli in Nobbys. I love delis and this is the most important one on the Gold Coast. It has been there for a long time, family owned and operated, and they are so welcoming and genuinely hospitably—it's impossible to go there and not love it. Most importantly, their food is delicious. Go there for a fresh falafel wrap, and then accidently buy heaps of pastries and cheeses!
WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO COMFORT DISH?
My go-to comfort dish is chicken and lemon noodle soup. It’s cheap, nourishing, healthy, makes you feel better if you’re sick, and still delicious and satisfying enough if you’re making it at 3am because you have the munchies!
WHO IS INSPIRING YOU AT THE MOMENT?
People that inspire me at the moment are less so the people that have the somewhat cinematic stories of triumph or massive public success, and more so the people that run the everyday neighbourhood joints and really express themselves freely and subtly.
Similar to Japan, where a lot of the smaller bars and restaurants are very personal expressions of space and offering. As an outsider going into these spaces, you can really see the love and attention and thought that has gone into it, and it’s nice to see people creating such personal environments that work here—it’s very stimulating and encapsulating.
WHERE CAN WE FIND THE REGION’S BEST LOCAL PRODUCE?
The best produce is in Northern New South Wales. I think if it’s done with good taste and sustainably, the agriculture and food industry will thrive in that area.
YOUR FAVOURITE INGREDIENT TO COOK WITH?
My favourite and most used ingredient is lemon—I’ll use it on pretty much everything and it’s the one thing I’ll always have at home.
BEST COOKING SKILL EVERY PERSON SHOULD MASTER?
Everyone should learn to make good soup; it fits so many occasions. Especially when cooking for someone else. They’re sick, soup. They’re cold, soup. You’re broke, soup. Only got left overs, soup. Eat more soup!
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING A CHEF?
The best thing about being a chef, for me, is that it allows me to be 100% myself. It’s very tangible, hands on, simplistic work. But beneath all the endless, small, what would seem almost mundane tasks it takes to set up a restaurant for the night, it’s tremendously rewarding thing to spend time doing. The camaraderie of working hard in a team environment is the best. Anthony Bourdain talks about restaurants being the last refuge for misfits, and after 10 years of hospitality I can definitely confirm they are my type of people.
AND THE WORST?
Running a restaurant will bring tidal waves of stress, insomnia, social anxiety, substance abuse, health negligence, stupid decisions and more, but the hardest obstacle to try and overcome is the time it consumes. Maintaining relationships, friendships, and family obligations become really hard when you simply don’t have the time to give. Even after all of that though, I still wouldn’t choose another profession.
IF YOU WEREN’T A CHEF, WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU BE?
If I had to choose something else to do for a job I don’t hate the idea of owning a small farm. Fresh air, plants and no shoes are a lot more appealing than peak hour traffic and an office cubicle.
THE URBAN LIST TEAM ARE COMING FOR DINNER—WHAT WILL YOU BE MAKING US?
If you were coming in for dinner and I was ordering, I would say to start with some snacks and burrata and a couple of amaro drinks at the bar. Then, after moving to a table, try a few of our handmade pastas and a bright red like something from Jauma or Mac Forbes. Then, if you’re feeling serious, a little peek at the Reserve wine list for something special and an order of the roast chook and woodfired cauliflower. All finished off with a Negroni, an espresso and a cigarette, which is the quintessential end to any enjoyable dinner.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
What’s next for me is firstly committing to making Lupo the ideal neighbourhood Italian joint. For it to be noisy and busy and a real meeting spot that people genuinely like to come to. After that though, I think some long term travelling is on the cards.
Read more about what you can expect at Lupo 2.0 here.
Image credit: Kaitlin Maree for Urban List