Javier Codina – Moda Restaurant, Brisbane

Uniting community through culinary excellence with Javier Codina at Moda

Nestled within the Brisbane Barracks, Moda stands as a beacon of culinary artistry, captivating diners with its authentic Spanish flavours for over 13 years opening in 2010. Founded by the visionary chef, Javier Codina, Moda has etched its place in the hearts of patrons through its commitment to seasonal local produce, fostering a tight-knit community, and unwavering dedication to its cultural roots. Here, we delve into a conversation with the mastermind behind Moda’s culinary success, discussing his journey, lessons learned, and his meticulous approach to selecting the finest beef.

From the bustling streets of Barcelona to the vibrant hub of Brisbane

Equipped with a fervent passion for infusing joy and connection into every dish, Javier Codina embarked on his culinary odyssey by completing his apprenticeship in Barcelona back in 1989. His journey then took him through the kitchens of France, where he honed his craft, followed by a stint at the Barcelona Olympics, and later, a rendezvous with esteemed chefs in the US. Reflecting on his journey, Javier remarks, “success in the culinary realm demands more than skill; it requires an unwavering commitment and a passion for overcoming challenges.”

After a brief return to Barcelona, Javier’s trajectory veered dramatically when he seized the opportunity to relocate to Hayman Island in 1999. Here, he crafted a fine dining establishment adorned with two coveted Chef Hats, solidifying his reputation as a master chef and visionary.

In 2010, Javier’s culinary compass guided him to open his sanctuary at Moda. Transitioning from the opulence of fine dining to the warmth of a bistro setting posed challenges, yet it proved to be a journey teeming with growth and fulfillment. “Embracing change and evolution has been the cornerstone of my culinary voyage at Moda. It’s been a transformative adventure, both professionally and personally,” Javier reflects.

Rooted in authenticity: Javier’s food philosophy

Since its inception, Javier’s culinary ethos has remained steadfastly anchored in authenticity and integrity. His unwavering commitment to sourcing ingredients directly from local markets ensures a harmonious fusion of freshness and quality in every dish. “I go out to the Rocklea markets before daylight and handpick fresh produce myself. White asparagus in spring, nectarines in autumn and whatever else looks fresh and beautiful. It’s my way of ensuring guests experience true seasonal cuisine through an inventive but reliable menu.” With an end goal of creating memorable experiences, for Javier, cooking transcends the mere act of preparing food; it’s about fostering connections, nurturing community, and imbuing every bite with love and passion.

Mastering the art of beef selection

At the heart of Moda’s gastronomic repertoire lies beef—and has become a cornerstone of Javier’s culinary canvas. Riverina Tomahawk, Angus Sirloin and Chateaubriand Tenderloin Flambé with Brandy are just some of the beef dishes Moda patrons come back again and again for. With meticulous care, Javier cultivates invaluable relationships with suppliers like JBS, ensuring access to a diverse array of premium cuts that breathe life into his culinary vision. “The key to crafting exceptional dishes lies in the quality of the ingredients. Through open communication with and the dedication and knowledge of my suppliers, I ensure that every cut of beef meets the exacting standards of myself and my discerning clientele”, Javier explains.

Favourite cuts and inspirations

Peruse Moda’s menu and it’s easy to see that grain-fed beef, in particular, has a special place in Javier’s heart. Renowned for its buttery, soft and slightly sweet character, Javier appreciates its unparalleled flavour and texture. “I’ve experimented with a lot of produce and have found that grain-fed beef has this understated subtlety that just elevates every dish to the next level,” he attests. “It’s a delight to cook with and, of course, to eat.”

When asked about his favourite cut, Javier enthusiastically extols the virtues of the Fiorentina T-Bone steak —a harmonious marriage of succulent sirloin and tenderloin. “The T-bone steak embodies the pinnacle of culinary artistry, offering there perfect of flavours and textures – as long as you know how to cook it!”

Drawing inspiration from Moda’s vibrant kitchen and loyal community, Javier channels his creativity into crafting innovative dishes that leave an indelible mark on discerning palates. Continuously tweaking and refining his menu based on what’s available, he’s built a reputation for quality, adaptability, and ingenuity.

Embracing culinary trends and leaving a lasting legacy

As culinary trends evolve, Javier remains at the vanguard of innovation, seamlessly integrating modern techniques while staying true to his Spanish heritage. Embracing the trend of open-fire cooking, Moda tantalises palates with a diverse selection of meats cooked over charcoal, bridging the gap between tradition and innovation. “We use what’s called a MIBRASA oven, designed and built in Spain,” shares Javier. “Every time we fire it up it creates a unique atmosphere that enlivens the senses. We get to bring guests closer to the action, interact with them, and really celebrate what food is all about: connection.”

Beyond his culinary prowess, Javier’s altruistic endeavours extend to charitable organisations, where food becomes a vehicle for spreading joy and fostering community. Namely, he regularly donates his time and talent to Cystic Fibrosis and the Foodbank QLD. “My ultimate goal is to inspire others to share their love for food while making a meaningful impact on the industry and society.”

Javier was named Chef of the Year in 2003, 2004 & 2005.

In the realm of gastronomy, where every dish tells a story, Javier Codina’s narrative is one of passion, perseverance, and unwavering dedication—a legacy that continues to unite communities through the timeless art of food.