Five Minutes With Aravina Estate Head Chef Ben Day

By Tessa Gallagher
15th Nov 2015

Aravina Estate Margaret River

You might know Aravina Estate for their gorgeous award-winning wine, for their amazing kitchen garden, their impressively grand 180-acre estate or maybe even for owner Steve Tobin’s shiny collection of sports cars on display.

For me, though, Aravina is a must-visit South West winery for the incredibly creative seasonal food being dished out.

After having a pretty epic lunch at Aravina recently, we had a chat with Head Chef Ben Day about food, family and why Aravina should be on your South West hit list this summer.

How did you get into cooking?

I started cooking at the age of 15 after working in a local cafe doing dishes.

Best and worst part of being a chef?

The best part is the adrenaline through service and the satisfaction of thrilling the customers, the worst part is when you don’t thrill the customers and also in some cases the hours.

What’s it like living in the South West?

I grew up in the South West, so it’s home! I describe it as an up-and-coming food and wine destination, and an amazing place to raise a family.

Tell us about your move to Aravina and the menu (which is amazing by the way!)

After parting ways from Knee Deep Wines earlier this year, I took a few months off to spend time with the family and it was by chance that I was available when the Executive Chef position became available at Aravina. Let’s just say I was approached for the position and gladly accepted! Being on a larger scale than my previous work, the menu has been simplified and stripped back to cater for larger numbers, but it’s still good, fresh, locally sourced food focusing on flavour first. We grow a number of vegetables, herbs and flowers which feature through the menu and we change the menu every season—the summer menu will be launched in early December.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?

If I wasn’t a chef I would probably still be doing something creative, not sure what though!

Tell us why Aravina is different to other wineries down south?

I think it's because it’s a destination; there is something for everyone here.

If you had to pick a favourite creation on the menu at the moment, what would it be?

Favourite dish at the moment would have to be the lamb—it's amazing quality and cooked very well.

What would you request for your last meal on earth?

Lots of fresh, amazing seafood, cooked simply, with lots of condiments and kimchi.

Fave restaurant in WA?

Maybe Miki's Open Kitchen in Margaret River, he always looks after us.

What’s on the horizon for you?

I just want to keep progressing, stay focused and stay cooking. I also want to spend more time with my wife and two daughters. Hopefully one day I'll own an amazing small restaurant down south.

Favourite spot in the South West...

For dinner?

Miki's Open Kitchen in Margaret River

For a drink?

Settlers Tavern in Margaret River

For a coffee?

Black Sheep Deli in Cow Town (Cowaramup)

For a day off?

Maybe a brewery for lunch and a play on any good playground with the girls. If I’m lucky, I get to mow the lawns.

To watch the sunset?

Definitely my parents’ house in Yallingup!

Want more Margaret River goodness? Check out A Guide To Margaret River With Surf Photographer Russell Ord!

Image credit: Aravina Estate

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