The godfather of modern gastronomy, the world’s best female chef and the executive chef of Australia’s Restaurant of the Year are the three visiting drawcards to this year’s Tasting Australia, which features Jock Zonfrillo on board as the creative curator for the first time after being one of the event ambassadors last year.
The three drawcards – Marco Pierre White, Ana Roš and Paul Carmichael – collectively
represent the most impressive group of headliners Tasting Australia has assembled in its 20-year history. As the original bad boy chef, Pierre White was the youngest chef to earn three Michelin stars and is the godfather of modern gastronomy, Roš was recently honoured as the world’s best female chef and Momofuku Seiobo (where Carmichael has been executive chef since 2015) was named Restaurant of the Year by Gourmet Traveller.
“I think Paul Carmichael’s at the top of his game at the moment,” Zonfrillo says of the Barbados-born chef. “He’s in a place [Seiobo in Sydney] where he’s allowed to be creative in a way he might not be able to do if he was running his own business, or if he was in one of the Momofukus [David Chang’s series of restaurants] over in New York or elsewhere in the States. When you catch a chef at that moment it’s really special, so it’s an obvious time to grab someone like him [for Tasting Australia].”
Zonfrillo says Pierre White is the culinary figure who has had the biggest influence on his career, having worked with the legendary chef at a number of restaurants including Restaurant Marco Pierre White when it won three Michelin stars.
“He’s a guy who’s got drive and passion to continually do better but he’s also very realistic and knows what it takes in order to achieve it,” Zonfrillo says. “All of us who worked for Marco over the years [Pierre White’s former protégés include Curtis Stone, Gordon Ramsay and Shannon Bennett] have all done very well for the most part. We all have a standard and a discipline and it was taught to us by him: never let our guard down and never lower our standards. And for the most part none of us have. He continues to be a great mentor.”
Marco Pierre White
Zonfrillo will hit the pans with Pierre White and Clayton Wells from Sydney’s Automata for a “never to be repeated dinner”, according to the Tasting Australia program. When Zonfrillo cooked with Matt Orlando for the festival last year, they didn’t plan the menu until the former Noma head chef landed in Adelaide, and the same will happen this time.
“I think the bit that’s never to be repeated is three of us cooking in the same kitchen at one time,” says Zonfrillo who notes that Pierre White doesn’t cook that much any more after officially retiring some 18 years ago and handing his Michelin stars back. Luckily for us, Pierre White is part of four special events at Tasting Australia: Chef ’s Journey (a free event at the Tasting Australia hub Town Square), the Fino Italian Feast at Seppeltsfield, Marco’s Kitchen (where his famous dishes will be replicated) and the event with Zonfrillo and Wells.
Jock Zonfrillo and Paul Carmichael. Another inbound chef who Zonfrillo will join in the kitchen is Ana Roš, who was ranked the best female chef in the world by the World’s Best 50 and is known for her hyper-local ethos at Hisa Franko. The two chefs will collaborate on a dinner with Carmichael.
“The chances of us doing a dinner together again are fairly slim I’ll say but that’s what these types of events are for. You want to put people together that normally wouldn’t cook together and are unlikely to again. For a customer to be able to sit and eat the food inspired by Slovenia and Oz via the Caribbean, it’s pretty cool.”
Other intriguing guests are the guys from Fool Magazine, arguably the globe’s hippest food magazine, especially now that Lucky Peach is about to finish up.
“They’re going to be popping up pretty much all over the place,” Zonfrillo says of the crew from the Swedish gastronomy magazine. “I think everybody who’s coming over wants to be a part of every single event. That’s a result of us just making the event much tighter and more focussed.”
Zonfrillo has called Adelaide home for the past seven years and in that time the food and booze scenes have changed quite a bit, with the town now a foodie’s paradise. This is an evolution Zonfrillo thinks was inevitable.
“That’s because of the talent that remains here and the people who moved here from interstate. I don’t want to call it a movement because it’s not; it’s a meeting of great minds and creatives within the industry that’s just turned the tables. I’ve been here seven years now and to be honest with you the landscape of food and wine was very different to what it is now. It’s in such a good place at the moment, it’s so healthy and we continue to attract new talent because of that. It’s a really exciting time to be in Adelaide cooking. It’s awesome. I love it.”
Sunday, April 30 to Sunday, May 7
Header image: Jock Zonfrillo and Paul Carmichael