GFG Chef’s Hat recipient, Matt Merrin is the Executive Chef at JAM, one of Townsville’s top performing restaurants. Matt shares his passion to grow the food scene in Townsville, bringing you his own expert insight about what’s hot on the culinary front each season.



2017 has been another rewarding year for JAM and the crew, with our year finishing off with the addition of the JAM ‘pop-up’ and a super busy Christmas period.

That being said, 2018 is shaping up to be a big year for us as well. We start with our new Summer menu on the first day back after the team enjoy a well-earned break.

From there, the ‘pop-up’ will be converted to our brand new restaurant, due to open in 2018.

Bridgewater Q is underway and we hope to have the new waterfront restaurant open by late May. To receive updates and have the chance at winning two tickets to the opening party, head to


Hospitality Bad Rap
Too often, the hospitality industry gets a bad rap, when it comes to  low wages and poor conditions. In 2018, I will be celebrating 30 years in the industry, and it has been extremely rewarding for me. The industry opens up so many opportunities; you can earn extremely good incomes, have great flexibility and travel the world.

Townsville is experiencing very high youth unemployment, but the hospitality industry is going to be a huge growth sector over the next few years. I would encourage anyone who has a passion for cooking to consider a chef apprenticeship. The wages may seem low to start, but would you believe there are a number of chefs in this country earning $100k, $200k plus? And yes, this includes chefs right here in Townsville.

The opportunities are not limited to chefs either. There will be a big demand for front of house staff too. Starting off as a junior waiter on base wages can open opportunities for your future. As an example: Kieran, our restaurant manager, started with us as a casual waiter and now runs JAM. He will also head up the team at Bridgewater as our operations manager.

Don’t let bad media put you off entering our great industry… who wants to sit at home every night and watch boring TV anyway?


Trends for 2018
Looking into the food crystal ball, what are the expected industry trends for 2018? There seems to be a few ideas floating around, and here are five interesting ones:

Less-waste cooking: Getting more out of our produce flows on from the nose-to-tail movement, and the next will be root-to-stem. We will be consuming tips of vegetables, making broccoli stem slaw and pickling watermelon rinds. One good element will be less land fill waste, so it’s time to get creative.

Floral infusion: If you enjoy elderflower, rose water, or even lavender, you will see an increase in botanical infused foods and drinks. Think floral granola at breakfast, hibiscus muffins for morning tea, Turkish rose petal meatballs at lunch and lavender duck for dinner.

Fourth meal of the day: Adding one extra meal to your day isn’t about over eating, you can simply enjoy a small mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. We have heard for years that spreading out smaller meals throughout the day has benefits. I’m sure in some cases is will be a mix of healthy snacks and naughty treats. As everyone’s lives are getting busier, we are seeing more and more guests pop in to JAM three or four times a day with various client meetings. Often the meetings are enjoyed with meals, as food can change the vibe of a meeting. People stop, relax and enjoy their time together.

Mushroom infused coffee: In 2017 we had turmeric coffee, now it seems mushroom infused in coffee, chocolate, broths and tea will be seen as the new healthy addition.

And finally, this one is my favourite. Trending in London and America…

Japanese dude food: Flavoursome, rich, indulgent and hearty Japanese food that is perfect for sharing… I’m in! Let’s look at deep fried prawns, yakitori chicken skewers, deep fried tofu in broth… might be a good addition to our lunch menu to kick start 2018!

Let’s hope 2018 will be a great year for everyone.


JAM is an award-winning restaurant. Our passion is in showcasing modern inspired menus while providing a high level of personal and professional service. Food is at the heart of what we do. Restaurant, private dining room, function room. 
Winner: AGFG 2017 – 1 Chef Hat 
Winner: Gourmet Traveller Wine List Award 2017 – 1 Glass.

Jam  |  1 Palmer St, South Townsville  |  07 4721 4900  |