World Experience, Village Vibes at Pitchfork

Image source: Photographer Katja Anton

Pitchfork is a Peregian Beach institution, a familiar face that’s had a little lift and and whole lot of love injected into it as the new owners tuck into village life. Carlie Wacker meets the foodies that revitalised our old friend.

After 20 years of living and working in developing nations as International SOS expatriates, establishing medical facilities and running medical evacuations, Matt and Debs Spencer found themselves in the peaceful surrounds of Peregian Village. 

It’s a far cry from setting up mine clinics in Ghana and the Congo and raising kids in countries like Kazakhstan and Nigeria. The Spencer family have some stories to tell and the next chapter began with lunch in Peregian Village. 

It was over a year ago while basking in the sun in the village square that the conversation between the couple turned to a lifelong dream of owning a restaurant. 

Clearly smitten with the vibe of Peregian Village they fantasised about what their restaurant might look like and how they would run the show. 

Then, a most serendipitous encounter alerted them to the fact that one of the region’s most loved and long-standing restaurants was on the market. The charismatic couple bought Pitchfork Restaurant on 6 September 2021 and this new chapter is one that brings a worldly dining experience to an old favourite. 

“We already loved Pitchfork and Kim and Craig created such a special place that we didn’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Matt said. “Our job was to polish the diamond.” 

They started by freshening up the existing furniture and décor, including skimming back 88 tables and applying a food grade lacquer to create a rustic result that is both familiar and fabulous. 

Remote-controlled awnings now make the venue weatherproof year-round and Matt loves how he can maximise customer comfort with the swift touch of a button as soon as the weather changes. 

“Debs heads up the Department of Beautification and she’s given the place such a stunning new feel,” he said. 

In between styling the restaurant with fresh local flowers and polishing cutlery, Debs continuous her lifelong passion of Pilates and is the owner and instructor at her Traditional Pilates Studio, Slinky Pilates in Peregian Beach. 

“Pilates keeps me strong and fit to get through the busy lunch and dinner services,” Debs laughs.

The atmosphere at Pitchfork has been elevated and modernised and it’s not just the tables and décor. 

“We have advanced the technology and processes in the restaurant to streamline business both back and front of house,” says Matt.  

“We built on the signature Pitchfork logo to further express the paddock-to-plate philosophy of the food and are pleased to have successfully retained key staff, particularly in the kitchen.” 

The staff are delighted to be involved in the revamping of the restaurant and Head Chef Hughen Marino said he appreciated being given carte blanche in the kitchen. 

“We explore modern Australian, middle eastern and Spanish cuisine with a focus on local, seasonal produce,” he said. “I love being hands-on with selecting our ingredients and celebrating the local farmers and food.” 

When asked what his Winter favourite is, Hugh recommends the Braised Duck Leg Pie infused with mandarin and spices, served with mash and jus. Yum! 

All staff, including Matt and Debs’ three kids who work in the restaurant, get involved in food tasting to ensure familiarity with the dishes. 

To match the mouthwatering food offer, the bar boasts more beers on tap and a refreshed range of creative cocktails. 

I propose you try the Pavlova Sour! 

Matt and Debs bring strong family and community values to their new business. They are actively involved in village life collaborating with other business and sponsoring charities and events.

For a worldly experience with a village vibe immerse yourself in the refreshed Pitchfork Restaurant, Peregian Beach.

About the Author /

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Carlie Wacker has worked in the media entertainment industry for over 20 years. From television to stage and radio she has been lucky enough to work her way around the whole country. Over the last 10 years she has styled and choreographed innovative fashion parades and talent shows and brings her love for fashion and entertainment as our Fashion Editor. She is also an MC, voice-over artist and radio announcer.

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