Joshua Niland, Fish Face, NSW
Josh Niland’s passion for seafood is only barely eclipsed by that of his executive chef and mentor Steve Hodges. Not only has he succeeded in transforming the original Fish Face into the best fish and chippa Sydney has ever seen he’s currently hard at work with Hodges on opening a new fine-dining seafood restaurant in Double Bay.
Mat Lindsay, Ester, NSW
It’s a restaurant and bar from the same crew that opened Italian favourites Vini, Berta and 121BC, but here the wood-fired oven rules over the spaghetti and, yes, even over the wine. At Ester run by young-gun chef Mat Lindsay, the emphasis is on smoke, herbs and vegetables. True to its botanical-leaning name, meat is often an accent rather than a major player here.
Daniel Pepperell, 10 William St, NSW
This red-hot young chef is all about baseball caps, sleeve tattoos and punked-up Italian bar food. His menus at 10 William St, his smart-and-small Italian wine bar in the heart of Paddington focus on small plates, and cured things. It could be as simple as spaghetti and clams with dehydrated olive dust, or maybe it’ll be his riff on a bacon and egg McMuffin, Italian style, but a finely tuned palate and a light touch keep the results fresh and tasty regardless.
Karl Firla, Oscillate Wildly, NSW
The young chef/owner of Oscillate Wildly, an inner-western Sydney landmark, has completely reinvigorated the menu, shooting it to the top of the gotta-eat-there-now lists of food fanatics nation-wide. It’s his approach to fine dining, using modern ideas without becoming bogged down by technique over flavour, bringing freshness, lightness and brightness to the fore without sacrificing heft and guts when they’re needed.