Sydney Chefs Put a Sophisticated Spin on Sustainable Cuisine

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Some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs have set up kitchen in Sydney, Australia, in recent years, drawn in part by the city’s commitment to sustainability. From working with sustainable seafood purveyors to tapping an abundance of locally grown produce, these chefs are not only supporting the environment, but also letting the ingredients inspire new levels of creativity. Taking it one step further, many of the restaurant spaces themselves feature designs meant to preserve history and materials.

Australian-born chef Peter Gilmore describes his cuisine as “food inspired by nature.” An avid gardener himself, he works with a handful of small farmers to grow produce exclusively for Quay, which regularly ranks as one of the world’s top restaurants. Quay’s decor is intentionally understated to emphasize panoramic views of the Sydney Harbour and the iconic Sydney Opera House. Diners can order a la carte or opt for the tasting menu with dishes — such as black lip abalone, smoked confit pig jowl, roasted duck and poached Blackmore Wagyu — that take guests on a round-the-world culinary excursion.

Quay Restaurant and the Sydney Opera House

The landmark view from Quay restaurant. Photo courtesy of Quay

Sustainability goes beyond utilizing local ingredients at Nomad, as the owners strive to reduce their carbon footprint in a number of ways. They source products close to home to eliminate transportation needs and use a Vestal system for filtering, chilling and carbonating water on site. The charcoal used for grilling dishes such as wood-roasted fish, spatchcock and free-range chicken comes from local sawdust mills. The dining space is an old renovated warehouse that offers both counter-style seating and formal dining.

Nomad Restaurant

The open kitchen at Nomad. Photo courtesy of Nomad

Chef Kylie Kwong, owner of Billy Kwong Chinese Eating House, has won multiple awards for her sustainability efforts and the restaurant was the first in New South Wales to go 100 percent climate neutral. Her food is traditional Asian but with a focus on Australian native ingredients intended to “represent this land and its people.” Her signature dish is crispy duck, which she complements with what’s in season, whether it’s oranges, mandarins or plums. If you have a small group, opt for Kylie’s Table and enjoy an evening with Kwong as she explains her food philosophy and prepares a menu specially selected for your group.

Billy Kwong Chinese Eating House

The dining room at Billy Kwong Chinese Eating House. Photo courtesy of Billy Kwong Chinese Eating House

Chef Clayton Wells has managed to marry the two pillars of Sydney’s food sustainability movement — seafood and produce — at his first solo restaurant, Automata, with a menu inspired by his travels around the world. Wells renovated a rundown warehouse, preserving the concrete floors and pillars and incorporating an aviation-themed chandelier as the focal point of the space. The five-course menu changes frequently to take advantage of seasonal ingredients, including a number of pickled and fermented fresh vegetables.

Automata bar, Sydney, Australia

The bar at Automata. Photo courtesy of Automata

Chefs and farmers alike appreciate Sydney’s temperate year-round climate which gives way to long growing seasons. Executive Chef Alex Vilches at Stockroom, the uber-elegant restaurant at InterContinental Sydney Double Bay, infuses native botanicals into his dishes to add more layers of flavor. The menu changes often to offer the best of the seasons — think King Alpine salmon with orange fennel, artichoke and passionfruit, or rabbit pappardelle with forest mushrooms and thyme gremolata. The restaurant’s lounge, Stillery, has a unique menu of gin and tonics infused with botanicals that pair nicely with many dishes on the dining menu.

Stockroom restaurant, InterContinental Sydney Double Bay

Stockroom restaurant at InterContinental Sydney Double Bay.

Farm-to-table dining is the norm in many Sydney restaurants but Head Chef Luke Fernley of 117 dining detours a bit to incorporate the region’s Asian influences. He works closely with local farmers to produce a menu that showcases the best of local game and produce, like the menu’s corn-fed chicken with kipfler potatoes, pine mushrooms, white carrots and miso, and the Tajima beef grilled over charcoal with chard and shimeji mushrooms. Located at InterContinental Sydney, 117 dining features an intimate dining room with rich leather and wood accents, and has an extensive wine library. The restaurant was awarded the 2016 World Luxury Restaurant Award for Best Luxury Hotel Restaurant and Two Hats by the esteemed Gault & Millau 2017 guide.

117 dinin, InterContinental Sydney

Fremantle octopus at InterContinental Sydney’s 117 dining.

The late-night glamour scene is at Supper Club, located on the 32nd floor of InterContinental Sydney with panoramic views of the Sydney Harbour from the rooftop terrace and wraparound balcony. There’s a light menu of sharing plates featuring locally inspired bites like duck livers with Shiraz pâté and house-cured Tasmanian salmon. These late-night bites are designed to pair with the club’s selection of 27 champagnes and bespoke cocktails.

Supper Club, InterContinental Sydney

Supper Club at InterContinental Sydney.

For drinks and food with a view in a beer garden setting, Opera Bar is a go-to spot for locals and visitors alike. Producing its own award-winning brews using certified, organically grown malt and hops, Opera Bar serves an accessible menu of pizza, pasta and charcuterie. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy the bright lights and nighttime views of the Sydney Opera House and waterfront.

Bartenders are the chefs of sustainability at Palmer & Co, an authentic 1920s speakeasy hidden deep underground (with a secret entrance) in The Rocks neighborhood. Just like fine dining menus, the cocktail menu here changes based on seasonal availability of fruits and herbs used in the concoctions.

If it’s simplicity and originality you’re seeking, head to The Baxter Inn, rated one of The World’s 50 Best Bars. This candlelit basement bar has one of the most extensive whiskey libraries in existence — more than 800 of them.

For a taste of sophistication at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts beyond the restaurants, consider booking Club InterContinental at InterContinental Sydney or InterContinental Sydney Double Bay. Enjoy complimentary evening cocktails and canapes at the exclusive Club InterContinental lounge, with a dedicated Club InterContinental team and personalised service.

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