Sunshine Coast chef Matt Golinski is certainly making the most of a second chance at life he probably never should have had, after suffering severe burns unsuccessfully trying to save his wife and three young children during a fire that razed their Tewantin home.
For a start, he is beginning his family life again and also has become the food ambassador for the northern Sunshine Coast centre of Gympie and its surrounds, in which guise he recently launched the historic Maryborough Rattler's Food Train excursion, showing off the Mary Valley's extraordinary produce.
On the short journey through rich farming country between Gympie and Amamoor stations, we are treated to a boxed selection of treats comprising Lyndols Lemon Myrtle Macadamias, Piggy-in-the-Middle Salami, Kenilworth Vintage Cheddar, Dried Double Creek Tomatoes, Lust for Crust Sourdough Crostini, Trish and Bruno's Italian Leaves, CC's Zucchini Relish and Queensland Quail's Scotched Quail Egg.
After more scenery and rattles it is time for Matt to present his main course at Amamoor Station, a delectable lunch-table feast including crusty sourdough served with the most delicious home-churned butter, tomato-caper-and-herb salad, marinated olives, thick, creamy hommus, pickled cucumber, Italian leaves, more outstanding Kenilworth cheeses, roasted-pumpkin-and-kale frittata, beet relish, kimchi, roasted Moya Valley chicken, and baby new Dutched cream potatoes with buttermilk dressing.
Matt has outdone himself with a wonderful introduction to the excellent fare of the Mary Valley, but wait ... the best is yet to come, in the form of a plate of beautifully ripe local peaches that have been picked full of the sort of flavour to die for.
They truly are a delicious way to finish a memorable meal. Well done Matt. Well done Mary Valley.
The tasting train runs every Tuesday from Gympie station on board the historic red carriages of the rail motor (Mary Valley Rattler; Gympie Railway Station; phone 07 5482 2750; www.maryvalleyrattler.com.au).
But I guess that Matt Golinski's main job is as Executive Chef for the swish Peppers Noosa Resort and Villas, where he is in charge of - I'm sure among other things - running the splendidly located View restaurant, set in the resort's stunning tree-lined backdrop and featuring a menu to suit its obviously choosy and well-heeled clientelle.
Items on the menu include entrées such as zucchini flowers filled with delights such as porchini risotto, and main courses range from spaghettini served with Fraser Island spanner crab, to roasted lamb and grilled wagyu sirloin, the latter two not served together but the wagyu with king brown mushrooms, leeks, pancetta and mash.
The resort (Peppers Noosa Resort and Villas; 33A Viewland Drive, Noosa Heads; phone 1300 737 444; visit www.peppers.com.au) is everything you'd expect of the brand - great location, ambience, room and ambience - though I'm still waiting for the gown and slippers.
Seriously, though, it's good, and I'm just so glad it escaped the recent Sunshine Coast fires. And that isn't just because it was on my itinerary.
For further information about the Sunshine Coast, go to www.visitsunshinecoast.com.