Born in Innisfail and growing up in Mission Beach in Northern Queensland, Kiah is half Torres Strait Islander (his father’s side) and has a strong connection to the land. He uses local ingredients that he finds anywhere from a rainforest to a reef, and his cooking reflects his surroundings.
His parent’s separated when he was in year seven and Kiah would spend weekends with his dad, a banana farmer, who still lives in the area. As a kid they’d go out fishing on the boat and then cook their catch. “Dad is a great cook. Fresh fish and perfect rice.” It was from his father that he learnt respect for the land and his surrounds, and that everything is connected.
However, it was his mum that inspired him to become a chef. “She was terrible at cooking so something had to be done!” With his mum working long hours, she would leave food in the fridge and Kiah and his brother would turn it into a meal. Kiah got his first job working in the kitchen of a pizza restaurant where his mum was a waitress.
Kiah has worked in numerous resort restaurants including Lizard Island in Far North Queensland and most recently Bibesa in Mission Beach.
Kiah has always sourced food locally, from picking fruit in mango trees in his backyard and making slurpees out of them, to climbing trees for purple passionfruit and sourcing the rare ingredient king coconut heart.
Kiah dreams of one day owning a big property with a bed and breakfast and filled with organic produce, where he would serve modern Australian and indigenous cuisine. It would have a sister restaurant in a bigger city like Mission Beach or Cairns and all the food would be supplied from the property.