Fire in the belly
Images by Mitch Jury
Bellyfish is one of those rare businesses that become an institution as soon as they open. Father and son team Steve and Mitch Jury, who opened Bellyfish eight years ago, are once again side by side, rediscovering their passion for the business of food.
Bellyfish has been an indispensable part of the Terrigal food scene since opening. A joint venture of Steve Jury and son Mitch, Bellyfish spearheaded the reawakening Terrigal has experienced over the
Situated in a cool, cavernous space across the road from the beach, the first café as you come down into Terrigal, Bellyfish looks like its always been there. Serving up healthy all day brunches to early risers, fitness fans, tradies and those beating the crowds to the beach, the café has become an integral part of many a morning ritual. The second wave – late risers and lunchers – are similarly nurtured, the Bellyfish kitchen sending out perfectly cooked, locally sourced eggs. These are the café’s staple and they’re served with imagination.
The café business wasn’t a new one for the Jury’s – Steve is an experienced chef who has owned cafés on the Coast for years, with Mitch spending his childhood growing up around commercial kitchens and coffee machines.
Eight years after creating a new type of eatery for the Coast, recent changes have seen Steve take on the kitchen again, and the food being produced is evidence of the creative passion both he and Mitch have for food, reignited now they’re working side by side again.
Steve’s previous culinary experience, and his training, was in French and Italian cuisine, and while this has an influence, the food created at Bellyfish pretty much defies any national classification. Its a delicious mish mash of influences and experimentation that’s evolved to accommodate both patrons’ preferences and new ideas as they come along. It does all have a common ingredient though, and to Steve it’s the most important one in any cooking. Integrity.
Much of Steve’s previous success came from serving up delicious Italian food which was particularly popular in the 90s. Moving from the precise methodology of his training and ‘restaurant food’, Steve became increasingly interested in the simple, rustic, regional cooking of the Mediterranean.
Both the French and Italians are well known for their celebration and ritualising of mealtimes. Care is taken and quality ingredients are used to lovingly create food that delights and nourishes, even for the simplest of meals.
Steve is fascinated by the history and development of regional cuisines, the raison d’etre behind certain dishes and the use of particular ingredients and methods. And he’s passionate about quality – the cornerstone of any food he produces. It’s rubbed off on Mitch who also has a love for the ritual of food – dishes that are carefully prepared from ingredients that have been thoughtfully sourced. Mitch now takes it one step further, having become a keen, and accomplished, food photographer, shooting the food images on these pages.
In creating Bellyfish this integrity was at the core of what both Steve and Mitch wanted to produce. Mitch’s travels throughout Asia have had a huge influence on the menu but interestingly it’s the same key ingredients – authenticity, quality and integrity.
While touring corners of Asia, Mitch was chasing waves and also exploring one of the world’s most vibrant and diverse cuisines. With over 300 ethnic groups there’s a vast assortment of influences. It’s also home to those islands that provided the west with spices, the original ‘Spice Islands’, The Moluccas.
The food of Indonesia is often rich, but with complex flavours and fresh ingredients that give it a delicacy and sophistication. Even in the smallest villages great care is taken preparing family meals, usually from produce sourced locally including, not surprisingly, some fantastic fish and seafood.
At Bellyfish, Steve’s mastery of Mediterranean cuisine combines with Mitch’s love of Asian food to create the signature style at Bellyfish. The dishes are colourful and nutritious while also being nuanced and imaginative.
Traditional spaghetti bolognaise even came in for a Bellyfish makeover recently. This is not the ‘spag bol’ you whip up for the kids … A rich ragu of slow cook beef cheeks, porcini mushrooms and pork, finished with a scattering of micro herbs. A delicious twist on the hearty Italian staple.
The recently added, and hugely popular, Buddha Bowl (see above) is a result of Mitch’s most recent trip to Indonesia, with fresh vegetables and sprouts, soft eggs and a delicious housemade satay dressing.
You’ll see many other ethnic influences pop up too, as with the recently added Togarashi Eggs with more than just a nod to Japan. Or recent ‘special’, and Costa Rican specialty, Gallo Pinto.
Steve and Mitch are always experimenting and constantly refining dishes. The ever-changing ‘specials’ see new ideas given a trial, and many long-term menu items start out this way, fine-tuned along the way.
One of Mitch’s other passions is coffee. Bellyfish serves single origin coffee from Sydney roasters, Single O, with four roasts featured each month to keep espresso and long black drinkers happy. A robust house blend, also from Single O, is perfect for a reliable morning latte.
Mitch is currently experimenting with matching food and coffee. For example a past Single O Sumatran bean went beautifully with dishes inspired by Sumatra’s sambals and curries. This is something that Bellyfish will hopefully be bringing to customers soon!
In the meantime keep an eye out for one of barista Tristan’s 12 hour cold drip coffees. Cold extraction is perfect for bringing out the subtle flavours of different single origins and is a great way to introduce yourself to a new roast. And a cooler way to get your morning fix!
Big News!!! – Bellyfish are now serving beer and wine alongside your meals
It's been a long time coming but we are now able to serve beer and wine alongside your meals. From 10am each day we will…