Like a Mormon on your doorstep, Adelaidians are all over our food and drink. We all know our outstanding chefs, the destinations, the history, the produce. But too often the unsung hero, so often the make and break of an incredible evening is the service.
Imogen Clarke of Restaurant Orana was the State finalist in the annual Electrolux Appetite for Excellence Awards as Young Waiter Finalist. Nominated by her restaurant manager Greta Wohlstadt, Imogen started in her career right out of high school at her local pub. For so many, hospitality is a transient profession but over time emerged a passion which saw her work her way up through different positions at local restaurants and resorts until deciding to move interstate, to South Australia in fact, to take up a position at Orana where she has since worked her way up to her current role as Head Waiter.
“Every place you work shapes your attitude and you’re always learning something new about service or food or even about yourself,” Clarke begins. “Working at the places I’ve worked, in particular at Peppers Moonah Links Resort on the Mornington Peninsula, helped me to realise the type of service I want to give and taught me valuable lessons in what to provide for customers. I give honest service which allows me to create a unique experience for every guest. What I love about my job is the ability to look at a guest, understand what they want and give it to them. It’s exciting what we do at Orana and we need to be able to share that excitement with people. It’s easy to give good service when you are passionate about something that goes beyond what is presented on a plate.”
Having been in South Australia for just under a year, Imogen was initially drawn to the rich food and drink culture of the state. “Adelaide has been overlooked for a long time and when people visit this country they are directed straight to Sydney and Melbourne in regards to food and wine experiences but what is happening in South Australia is explosive. The reason Jock chose Adelaide is because of it’s location. We are 15 minutes from the nearest beach and 20 minutes from, in our opinion, one of the best wine regions in Australia and has some of the best small bars and restaurants you’ll find in the country. Although South Australia is small in population, the reach of the restaurant extends far beyond the borders of the state.”
Orana is really the perfect match for Clarke’s interests with the philosophy to create a true Australian cuisine resonating strongly. The term “Modern Australian” is used a lot but can incorporate Mediterranean and Asian influences. Orana are trying to create an Australian cuisine with native and exotic ingredients and treat them with respect while using traditional and modern techniques. Head Chef Jock Zinfrillo is also using techniques which have been passed down from generation to generation and shared with Jock in communities all over Australia.
“When looking at food culture, knowledge is vital and in order to evolve and progress you need to take influences not only from interstate but also from international culinary cultures,” says Clarke. “Knowledge comes from anywhere, whether it be the middle of the Australian outback or a restaurant in the World’s Top 50. Evolving within the food industry requires you to be humble and to listen and learn from every source available. This is what is so important at Orana, being able to learn from individuals and communities in order to provide an experience for guests in the most honest and true sense.”
To dine with Imogen and experience the magnificence that is Orana, visit their website to make a booking.