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Sydney International Airport becomes foodie destination

Sydney Airport is becoming a legitimate foodie hotspot, with locally loved and world-renowned chefs creating a playground of new eateries.

By Deborah Dickson-Smith
Published: 13 March, 2017

A select group of the world’s airports are beginning to look more like gourmet, high-end dining precincts than transport hubs – and Sydney’s international airport is one of them. The trend took off here last year when American chef Wolfgang Puck opened his first Australian outpost, The Bistro by Wolfgang Puck, which was shortly followed by Vue de Monde's Shannon Bennett who unveiled his first burger bar here, Benny Burger. Now an “exact replica” of cult local restaurant Kitchen by Mike has opened, offering travellers the opportunity to tick off another much-loved Sydney dining experience.

Kitchen by Mike

Mike McEnearney, Sydney Airport T1 International, New South Wales

The original Kitchen by Mike opened in the Sydney suburb of Rosebery in 2012 and featured a menu of local, seasonal produce, much of which was cooked in an enormous wood-fired oven. An unusual canteen-style restaurant housed in a furniture warehouse, Kitchen By Mike was credited with kickstarting a nationwide trend of similar dining experiences, each offering inventive food served up on trays, buffet-style, in a cool setting.

The menu at the new airport venue, also named Kitchen by Mike, includes plenty of favourites from the original (look out for Mike’s celebrated wood-fired oven, too). Find breakfast items such as buckwheat toast served with cured vegetables, bacon butties with Mike’s own ketchup, and granola served with poached pears and natural yoghurt. At lunch you can choose from items such as the crispy pork belly with piccalilli and watercress, a salad of wood roasted pumpkin, pomegranate molasses and spiced yoghurt, or kurobuta ham with mash and Cumberland sauce.

“We source produce locally, follow the seasons strictly and change the menu regularly," says Mike McEnearney, the award-winning chef behind the venture. You won’t find a printed menu at the airport either, he says. “We chalkboard it." The canteen also serves Australian wines, cold-pressed juices and health tonics such as kombucha. You can even take a little taste of Australia onto your plane with a Fly By Mike pack, which features your choice of menu items packed into a flight-ready meal tray.

Alternatively, head into Sydney’s streets to find more of McEnearney’s cooking – although the original Kitchen By Mike recently closed, McEnearney is has announced a new and improved version will open in the neighbourhood of Surry Hills later this year, while diners can enjoy McEnearney’s trademark honest, flavourful cooking at fine dining hot spot, No. 1 Bent Street.

The Bistro by Wolfgang Puck and Heineken House

Kitchen by Mike, Sydney Airport T1 International, New South Wales

World-famous chef Wolfgang Puck – who’s been catering the Oscars for the past 21 years – has brought his range of gourmet burgers, pizzas and steak dishes to Sydney’s airport at The Bistro by Wolfgang Puck. Here you’ll find a Sydney twist on his signature dishes, with local produce incorporated into the American-style cuisine to infuse it with distinctly Australian flavour.

Choose buttermilk pancakes or huevos rancheros for breakfast, and lunch dishes such as Australian Wagyu burgers or Puck’s signature chopped salad. The adjoining Heineken House – which serves snacks from The Bistro by Wolfgang Puck’s menu, albeit in a more casual atmosphere – is worth checking out, too.

Benny Burger

Nearby you’ll also find Benny Burger. It’s the creation of Shannon Bennett, a regular judge on TV show MasterChef Australia, who studied under some of the world’s finest chefs including Albert Roux, Marco Pierre White and Alain Ducasse before opening his now world-famous Melbourne restaurant Vue de Monde at the grand old age of 24. At Benny Burger, the focus is on ethically sourced produce with minimal environmental impact.

But which burger to choose? It’s a tough decision, but Bennett’s signature is The Chang, a combination of Australian Wagyu beef, free-range fried egg and pickled beetroot. It was created in response to an insult to Australian burgers by American chef David Chang, who claimed Australians ruin burgers with the traditional local additions of egg and beetroot. Bennett has playfully retaliated with The Chang, which he says is “what a burger can be”. If you’re keen to try an ‘Aussie’-style burger with beetroot and egg, there’s arguably no better place than to do so here.

Joe & The Juice

Joe & the Juice, Sydney Airport T1 International, New South Wales

Health-conscious Sydneysiders are in the grips of a deep love affair with fresh, unusual juice combinations, and the instant popularity of cult Copenhagen juice brand Joe & The Juice, which open at the airport late last year, is yet another illustration of the trend. Locals queue for sophisticated flavour options served with “flair and drama” (the brand claims to offer a “cocktail-style moment” with every drink), which means you can expect unusual ingredients (think beetroot, avocado and elderflower), sourced from local farmers and served in creative combinations. Drink up.