Celebrity chef fronts Henley Surf Life Saving Club kitchen revamp

Re-posted from InDaily 26/10/2023: https://indaily.com.au/eat-drink-explore/restaurants/2023/10/26/adam-swanson-and-___-to-front-henley-surf-life-saving-club-revamp/

The Henley Surf Life Saving Club is undergoing a kitchen update with a well-known chef and his business partner taking over the operation.

Celebrity chef Adam Swanson and his business partner, Marion Bay Hotel publican Josh Harkin, are turning the Henley Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) kitchen into a modern, casual bistro.

This new iteration of the Henley restaurant and bar is slated to reopen in December.

“After a decade of running the place ourselves, we are excited about bringing in such an experienced team as Adam and Josh,” said Henley SLSC vice-president Lennie Hitch.

“Between them, they have the experience needed to really make our perfect location shine.”

Swanson, who also owns Cheeky Chook on Henely Beach Road, said he is excited to get on board, and his role as head chef will mean a “casual, beachside dining experience”.

When discussing whether the food will remain pub style, Swanson said “there will be some classics in there [but] done in a modern way”.

“I don’t want to be saying you’re gonna get chips in a basket type of scenario — that doesn’t happen in my kitchen,” Swanson said.

“Obviously using SA ingredients from our wonderful seafood, to our fruit and veg, meats in particular.

“But also having a very heavy influence from my background being Italian. So, you wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a few plates of pasta on there, and crudo and things like that.”

Swanson said he believed a relaxed yet elevated dining experience was missing in the western suburbs and he was excited to jump in the kitchen and “give [Henley SLSC] some love”.

“The beach has my heart, in particular Henley — I live on the west side,” Swanson said.

“Say Friday night, where do I want to go? I don’t want to go top end and drop a lot of money, but I want to go somewhere I can relax, with my wife and my kids [and] have a good feed.

“We want to cater and we just really want to bring back that coastal… Italian feel.”

The club, which closed over the winter, was previously only open at select times. This new iteration of the Henley SLSC will be open for six days.

“You can’t run a business on three days, unfortunately,” Swanson said.

“[But] what we really want to offer is a wonderful location, which it is. The venue itself is unbelievable — the best views… of the coast and with wonderful food and just really casual vibes and that’s what it’s all about.”

Swanson had previous success beachside with his restaurants Zucca and Esca at Holdfast Shores. As well as many television appearances, he’s had a high-profile role as a brand ambassador for the South Australian pasta company, San Remo.

Henley was the first Surf Life Saving Club in South Australia, formed in 1925, and rebuilt the clubrooms to include the essential emergency services as well as the upstairs restaurant and bar in 2014.

The new restaurant partners mean the volunteers can continue to focus on keeping the public safe on the beach and leave the kitchen for the professionals.