You’re always hearing us go on about the incredible restaurants we have here in SA and everywhere you should be dining, but how often do we celebrate the talent behind the scenes? The chefs at our favourite eateries are the unsung heroes who we often never even get to see. So today we’re taking off our (chef) hats to those that make the dishes that leave us wanting more. If you’re a food lover (like us) here is our guide to the names you need to know that create dishes that will change your life.
Jock Zonfrillo- Restaurant Orana and Street ADL We won’t beat around the bush, if this list consisted of just one name, Jock’s would be it. For those who are fans of reality cooking shows you may recognise Jock from the recent series Restaurant Revolution, but let us assure you his talent lies way beyond presenting. His immeasurable skills helped famed Penfold’s Magill Estate reach new heights during his time there as head chef. However, he walked away from that comfort and glory to open his very own restaurants and the result? Mind blowing and mouthwatering. Restaurant Orana serves up traditional (we’re talking indigenous) Australian food in the most modern and opulent ways possible, but a warning: the price tag is to match. We think it’s worth every last cent, nonetheless if you’d like to experience Jock’s cooking but don’t have the budget for an 8 course degustation you needn’t panic; just step downstairs to Street ADL for an easy atmosphere and delicious but casual street food.
Duncan Welgemoed- Africola. In 2013, whilst working at Bistro Dom Duncan was named Chef of The Year. Just let the gravity of that title really sink in. After several years of working with this title under his belt he set out to do one of the hardest things a chef can do, opening their own venue. And guess what? He nailed it. Africola is also one of the 3 SA restaurants to be listed on the AFR Australia’s Top Restaurants for 2015, which should speak volumes. This bright and vibrant little spot is an ode to Duncan’s South African heritage. It has brought us the intricate joys of African cuisine in a modern and approachable way and is a true testament to Duncan’s talent.
Justin Miles- Windy Point. Early in his career he worked in the three Michelin starred London restaurant Bibendum and it’s safe to say the skills he learned there have spanned the entirety of his career. In 2009 Justin took on a partnership in Windy Point restaurant where he already held the position of Executive Chef. His attention to detail and passion for flavours that border the Mediterranean transformed the restaurant and lead it to winning so many awards including SA Restaurant of the Year, Best Tourism Restaurant and Best Contemporary Australian Restaurant. Phewf! And if that isn’t enough to tell you that you NEED to make the journey up towards Belair then the fact that the views here of Adelaide are matched by no other venue really should. Oh and get the chocolate dessert platter while you’re there, your thighs may not thank you but your stomach will!
Simon Bryant. Now this could be tricky as Simon isn’t situated at a specific restaurant. You’d know his face from daytime cooking show ‘The Cook and The Chef’ with the effervescent Maggie Beer. He moved to our humble state to work under the incredible Cheong Liew (also featured) at The Grange Kitchen at The Hilton Hotel. It’s here he learned how to combine Cheong’s traditional French techniques with incredible Malaysian flavours to create something truly spectacular. Now Simon’s passion lies in the quality and origin of produce and showcasing the importance of that to the public. He is currently the Creative Director of the longest running food festival in the country; Tasting Australia. We STRONGLY recommend you get along to the festival next year to have a chance at tasting the glorious food this man creates, plus you’ll get to have some awesome foodie experiences, check it all out here.
Jamie Laing- Maximilian’s Restaurant. Basically an institution in the Adelaide Hills, this restaurant is a must visit thanks to its amazing Head Chef. This place is perfect for any occasion but we love it for a long and leisurely lunch during which much delicious food from Laing’s divine degustation menu can be enjoyed and, of course, much wine. Enjoy the view of the lake from the dining room while beautifully intricate meals are placed in front of you, mostly made up of produce from the Hills and surrounding region. Of course there is always the a la carte menu option and we love the fact that their menus change to suit the season.
Kazuki Ushiro San- Ginza Miyako. Yes, it is a little bit of a mouthful, but all you need to know is Ginza Miyako should be your next restaurant destination if you’re feeling like some incredible asian cuisine. The man himself is a master of French Asian fusion cuisine and the menu he has created blows us away every time. Kazuki has worked in restaurants all over the globe, from Paris to Tokyo. Ginza Miyako have some great affordable lunch deals but if you’d really like to be blown away try the dinner menu. Our favourite is the Port Lincoln Kingfish Saikyouyaki Style or try out the smorgasbord that is the Modern Kaiseki Course (6 courses of divine cuisine for $75pp.)
Cheong Liew Another tricky one as Cheong is not currently running a restaurant in Adelaide, but his name certainly couldn’t go unmentioned here. In 1999 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to the food and restaurant industry through involvement in developing and influencing the style of contemporary Australian cuisine. He’s been called ‘One of The 10 Hottest Chefs Alive’ by US Food and Wine and successfully ran the renowned restaurant The Grange at the Hilton Adelaide for over a decade. His signature dish ‘The Four Dances of the Sea’ contains 27 unique elements and was dubbed as ‘our greatest national dish’ by The Weekend Australian Magazine. They also stated ‘it should be eaten at least once by every Australian, including Prime Ministers’ (we wonder if Malcolm has had a taste?) Cheong does lots of guest appearances at food events across the state so if you have the opportunity to feast on the fruits of his labour you simply must. Head to his Facebook page to keep update on his delicious dishes and latest appearances.
Tze Khaw- National Wine Centre.This wonderful little man worked in the kitchens of the Adelaide Convention Centre for over 20 years. Just to put that incredible achievement into perspective: the ACC Kitchens pumps out more than one million dishes each year! And luckily for diners, Tze put his heart and soul into the planning and production of each one. A recent turn of events lead to him shaking things up. Tze recently took over the Head Chef position at the National Wine Centre in a drive to do some more ‘intimate cooking.’ This massive downsize for him means he can oversee the food production and ensure the food miles on the produce used are as low as possible. The dining at the National Wine Centre’s Wined Bar is casual but contemporary. It’s certainly worth getting a group of friends together for a visit to ensure a fabulous drop of wine to accompany Tze’s fabulous dishes.
Shane Wilson- Bistro Dom. Shane’s predecessor was the aforementioned culinary king of Africola, Duncan Welgemoed. Those were some mighty big shoes to fill, and yet Shane has done so incredibly. Bistro Dom is easily one of our favourite restaurants in Adelaide with its high end dining style menu, served at affordable prices. Shane was the Sous Chef at the famed Hentley Farm and that quirky elegance has definitely been brought to his dishes at Bistro Dom. His passion obviously lies in modern Australian cuisine, but he is equally as passionate about the stories from behind these dishes. His menus are often changing, and not just seasonally, to reflect the abundance of produce foraged by local producers. This is the style of dining we love to see in SA.
Lachlan Colwill- Hentley Farm. Hentley Farm is a foodie’s dream. It’s a name most food lovers in SA, nay the country, should know. But the driving force behind the genius of this restaurant is Lachlan Colwill. Originally a Barossa boy, Lachlan has trained at both international top restaurants and some pretty fabulous venues in our own backyard. Since opening in 2012 Hentley Farm’s incomparable originality has seen it win Best Restaurant in a Winery at the 2014 SA Restaurant & Catering Awards, South Australia’s Best Restaurant of the Year and Best Regional Restaurant in the Advertiser 2013 Food Awards and Best New Restaurant at the SA Restaurant & Catering Awards 2013. What an impressive feat. Lachlan himself won the national La Chaine des Rotisseurs Chef Competition in 2009 and went on to represent Australia in the international competition in New York where he placed third in the world! This dining experience has a Heston Blumenthal style to it and comes with a price tag to match but we guarantee it will change the way you look at food.
Dennis Leslie- Hill of Grace. Since its opening the stunning Hill of Grace restaurant has blown away high end diners with its sumptuous dishes. The prestige of this venue and its dishes is hard to convey in writing; to say that his 8 course degustation is one of the most exquisite displays of every aspect of South Australian produce might just be an understatement. To come from washing dishes at the Adelaide Hilton to creating a menu that is the answer to most foodies’ dreams is an incredible path, but one that is more than well deserved. He took a brief hiatus from the Adelaide scene and travelled to Europe to further his skills. It was here he learned Michelin Star quality cooking from restaurant Chef Christophe Gravois. He also worked under Raymond Blanc at Le Petit Blanc in England and Edinburgh, where he gained the depth of knowledge we’re now lucky enough to experience at Adelaide Oval. A meal at Hill of Grace is a once in a lifetime experience, but you must indulge if you’re a lover of food (and if you have the means).
Paul Baker- Botanic Gardens Restaurant. At this year’s Cellar Door Wine Festival we at Glam were lucky enough to take part in a cooking class with this facinating and down to earth chef. As Head Chef of the Botanic Gardens Restaurant for over the past year, Paul has transformed this eatery into a living breathing entity of its own. Through his passion for sustainability the restaurant now uses every part of the produce they source in an attempt to create a no-waste restaurant. Those that understand the complexities of a commercial kitchen would know this is no easy feat. But Paul is not only managing to achieve this, he’s also plating unbelievable food of such high standard in the process. His past credentials speak volumes, working for Matt Moran at the prestigious Aria Restaurant, Sydney and being the Head Chef for Thomas Johns’ two-hatted restaurant, Pello amongst many MANY other achievements. He’s bringing this greatness to SA in an innovative way that we should be celebrating. Head to the gardens to enjoy a spectacularly beautiful dining experience in a wonderful location.
David Swain- Fino. Not only the Head Chef, but also the owner of the incredible regional restaurant Fino. The restaurant has two locations, one being at the simply stunning Seppeltsfield Winery, the other in historic Willunga. If you’d like to eat dishes cooked by, and possibly even have a chat to Swain himself, you should head to Willunga. Individually he has been recognised at the Australian Produce Awards for his Outstanding Use Of Produce and his efforts have also seen Fino win Regional Restaurant of The Year. His passion for the local produce he uses is reflected so beautifully on the plate that words simply aren’t enough to describe it, you truly have to taste it yourself.
James Brinklow- The Lane Vineyard. Jimmy’s Adelaide career began 17 years ago and has blossomed ever since. After five years at famed Adelaide restaurant Auge, he stepped up to the plate as Head Chef. His chef expertise saw them win South Australian Restaurant of The Year twice and the national title of Best Italian Restaurant in 2009. James now resides as Head Chef at The Lane Vineyard, where his subtle and elegant meals match perfectly with their stunning wines and scenery.
Scott Huggins and Emma McCaskill- Penfold’s Magill Estate. Let’s be fair here, this duo had huge shoes to fill when stepping into the limelight of the breathtaking Penfold’s Magill Estate restaurant. The restaurant’s elusive elegance had seen the restaurant win award after award and the pressure was certainly on for Scott and Emma to uphold this level of superiority. But uphold it they have, being one of only 3 Adelaide restaurants to be listed on the AFR Australia’s Top Restaurants for 2015. We are in awe of their exceptional ability to source and transform our local flora and fauna into dishes that you will remember for a lifetime.