Four uniquely Australian dining experiences

Ben Shewry from Attica, Peter Gilmore from Quay, Neil Perry from Rockpool and Dan Hunter from Brae prove why Australia is one of the world's greatest food destinations. Four uniquely Australian dining experiences
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Four Uniquely Australian Dining Experiences

  • Art and Culture
  • Sydney

Ben Shewry from Attica, Peter Gilmore from Quay, Neil Perry from Rockpool and Dan Hunter from Brae prove why Australia is one of the world's greatest food destinations. 

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list offers an insight into the finest places to dine in the world. From country to country, restaurants are selected by a panel of experts, and what results is a highly curated selection of the world’s best chefs, offering a truly unique dining experience.

The Australian contenders have proven that using native Australian ingredients, growing fresh organic produce in Australian soils and embracing Australia’s multi-cultural heritage produces engaging, creative, individual cuisine that celebrates the local while capturing international attention. Chief among these contenders are chefs like Ben Shewry from Melbourne's Attica, Peter Gilmore from Sydney’s Quay, Neil Perry from Sydney’s Rockpool and Dan Hunter from Victoria’s Brae.

As Australia prepares to host the World’s 50 Best ceremony in 2017, all focus is on Australia as one of the world's greatest food destinations, and these four chefs, with their four distinctly different restaurants, prove why. 

Attica, Melbourne, Victoria

Melbourne’s Attica falls under the stewardship of innovative head chef, Ben Shewry and Australia's unique native ingredients are the key. Attica resides in the unassuming suburb of Ripponlea, Melbourne and offers diners an experience that focuses solely on the food.

Shewry is a champion of indigenous, wild, heirloom and foraged ingredients and his inventive menu reflects his passion in these key areas. Attica's menu highlights native ingredients, such as the Salted Red Kangaroo and Bunya Bunya or Marron with Quandong and Pearl, and often these ingredients are foraged by Shewry in the morning near his home on the Bellarine peninsula.

Hailing from the rugged coast of North Island, New Zealand, Shewry takes inspiration from his childhood and his current surroundings for his dishes and believes that food can have a deeper meaning than just another item to consume. Food can and should be evocative, emotional and thought provoking.

Go for: Engaging, evocative food in an unlikely suburban setting.

Quay, Sydney, New South Wales

Quay impresses before you’ve even tasted the food as it’s difficult not to be taken in by the views.

For Peter Gilmore, who helms Sydney’s Quay, it's the ability to explore different food cultures and traditions that sets dining in Australia apart. "We’ve got the freedom to be able to cook what we want, how we want, and be influenced by so much diversity. It makes for quite a creative and exciting cuisine."

Gilmore's food is complex, daring, inventive and all about texture. Gilmore describes his cuisine as "food inspired by nature", truly embracing the vegetable garden and all its diversity. Gilmore sources rare plants and heirloom vegetable seeds and collaborates with local and expert fisherman and farmers, acknowledging the food and its natural environment.

“What we try to do is to produce original, beautifully crafted food with a big emphasis on layers of texture and flavours to create an overall sense of balance. Food that tastes beautiful, takes you on a journey of different sensations and makes you think about where it came from.”

A current top hit is his Flinders Island salt grass lamb with native coastal greens, black garlic, leeks and wakame.

Go for: Creative cuisine with stunning views of the iconic Sydney harbour.

Brae, Birregurra, Victoria

Brae, a 90 minute drive southwest of Melbourne, is set on 30 productive acres and is under the creative direction of chef Dan Hunter.

Housed in an architecturally converted farmhouse (with an extra six accommodation suites on the property that you can book), in farming country inland from the surf coast town of Lorne, Brae offers more than just your regular farm to table, paddock to plate concept. Here, Hunter offers a place  to interact with nature and eat from the land. The acreage includes established vegetable patches, olive grove, an organic orchard, beehives and a bespoke charcoal grill.

Hunter seasons with native ingredients, cooks with organic farm-fresh produce and offers the salty crunch of the sea to keep the palate amused. 

Hunter's goal is simple and easy to recognise in the food he serves: to recreate the surrounding region in flavour, and he succeeds.

Go for: Food that celebrates the local with maturity and individuality.

Rockpool, Sydney, New South Wales

Under Neil Perry’s guidance, Rockpool has always been a stalwart player in internationally renowned Australian cuisine. 

For Perry, the key to success is in his unwavering commitment to using the finest, locally sourced sustainable produce combined with a progressive approach to food. And as far as Australian produce goes, our proximity to Asia is what sets us apart. "I love the fact we are part of Asia. I love using amazing Chinese and Thai ingredients that grow fresh here."

While Perry may be closing the doors to his fine dining restaurant, it's not without 27 years of success under his belt, and another restaurant ready in the pipeline. Making a move to more informal dining, Perry and his management team will be opening a new restaurant Eleven Bridge on Monday August 8 in the same location as Rockpool Est. 1988 - Bridge Street, Sydney. 

Go for: Once open, go to Eleven Bridge for the same quality that Rockpool offers in a more relaxed setting. 

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