From a local Kingscote café to an award-winning bistro in Penneshaw and a quirkily refurbished caravan selling bite-sized food and cocktails at Emu Bay, former Southern Ocean Lodge staff have set-up a range of entrepreneurial food outlets on Kangaroo Island. With an abundant range of fresh and diverse produce available at their fingertips, it’s no wonder our past team members have fallen in love with the artisan food and passionate producers on the island.
Southern Ocean Lodge is pleased to have played a role in their careers, a place where they gained invaluable experience as well as lifelong friendships and even partners, inspiring their futures in unexpected ways.
Yen Aun Leow & Louis Lark – Cactus Café and Restaurant
59 Daucey Street, Kingscote
Former assistant Lodge Manager Yen Aun Leow and former Sous Chef Louis Lark met at Southern Ocean Lodge six years ago where they formed a great friendship and bonded over their passion for good food. They even made a ‘foodie trip’ to Malaysia before joining forces and opening a fully licensed café/restaurant in the heart of Kingscote at the end of 2017.
Growing up on the Eyre Peninsula, Louis gained his chef’s apprenticeship in Coffin Bay before working across Europe, Canada and finally as a Sous Chef to Executive Chef Tim Bourke at the lodge. Louis also worked for South Australian food legends Simon Bryant and Maggie Beer, as well as an assistant distiller for his father Jon Lark, owner of award-winning distillery KI Spirits who supply the Baillie Lodges collection with the exclusive baillies9 gin.
Yen trained in hotel management in his home country of Malaysia, and after an initial industry placement at Southern Ocean Lodge gaining experience across all departments, Yen became Assistant Lodge Manager where he remained for the next five years.
Together Yen and Louis saw an opportunity to offer a casual dining experience with local producers supplying amazing, fresh ingredients. “It’s a chance to run our own show,” Louis said. “There’s so much potential in Kingscote to fill a gap – we can offer local food, good quality, light and healthy, at good prices.”
The smoked salmon with sourdough, horseradish cream, rocket, dill and pickles is a local favourite, and their Instagram (@cactus.kangarooisland) must be followed to keep up with their Friday night themed dinners – from Indian to Mexican to Japanese – the boys have certainly added a vibrant and exciting café/restaurant to the growing Kingscote foodie scene. In fact, you will find many current SOL staff dining at Cactus on their days off.
Cactus is currently open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch, from 7.30am in the morning till 2.30pm in the afternoon.