Annabel Bowles

Tropic Now journalist

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Oaks Kitchen and Garden take home first Chefs Hat


Our favourite produce-to-plate food destination has just received its first Chef Hat. 

The Australian Good Food Guide (AGFG) has awarded Oaks Kitchen and Garden, a Southeast Asian cooking and dining venue near Port Douglas.

The prize puts owners Ben Wallace and Rachael Boon among Australia’s best restaurateurs.



An anonymous AGFG diner reviewed the Oaks Beach restaurant on six key criteria – ingredients, taste, presentation, technique, value and consistency.

Ben said he and Rachael are thrilled their food’s been acknowledged at an international level.

“The Chef Hat awards cover Australia and New Zealand, and they’re like our equivalent to a Michelin Star,” he said.

“For Australian restaurateurs, it’s the most globally recognised award you can get.

"We’re really excited to have received it, especially as we’re evolving so fast at the moment.”

Ben takes diners through a Chef’s Table Experience and Thai cooking classes, while his wife Rachael runs the organic garden on their four-acre property.   

Visitors can also walk through the garden and taste produce like kaffir lime, rosella leaves and native lemongrass, all while learning about the couple’s sustainable practice.

Often booked out up to six weeks ahead, Ben said he feels fortunate to have had a loyal local client base throughout the pandemic. 

About six weeks ago the duo also started doing Wednesday night curry nights, with delivery to Port Douglas and Oaks Beach. 

This week’s menu included a red duck curry with lychee and Thai basil, as well as a penang curry with pork and potato, and a pumpkin and eggplant yellow curry.

Oaks’ open-air restaurant and garden is open Thursday to Saturday. Bookings are essential.