Aussies around the world: where the top chefs eat when they visit home

Laura Price - 15/11/2016

Header images: Southern Coral Coast (image: Australia's Coral Coast); Perth (Tourism Australia) and Little Creatures brewery; Mereweather Beach, Newcastle (Tourism Australia)

Australians aren’t shy when it comes to promoting their country’s virtues – the beach, the sunshine, the don’t-take-yourself-too-seriously approach and, of course, the wonderful food and wine. So for the handful of 50 Best chefs who live permanently abroad, we wondered what they spent their time lusting after.

We asked Aussie ex-pats Dave Pynt of Burnt Ends, David Thompson of Nahm and Brett Graham of The Ledbury to give us their go-to places and – most importantly – things to eat when they visit their hometowns.




Dave Pynt preparing fennel, burrata, cheese and orange oil; the Burnt Ends sanger

Chef hometown: Perth, Western Australia

Time away from Australia:
6 ½ years

First thing I do when I go back to Perth: Go to our family home and have a sloe gin negroni.

First meal I eat back in Aus: A family barbecue.

Home-cooked meal that most reminds me of growing up: The family barbecue. Whether it's a mustard-crusted beef rump on the rotisserie or whole fish on the barbecue, it's always a meal I crave.

Favourite coffee shops and restaurants discovered in Australia since leaving: There are too many to list – in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Tasmania. It's such an exciting time to be eating around Australia at the moment.


Inside Little Creatures brewery, Freemantle (images: Tourism Australia)

Hidden gems in Perth and the surrounding area:
It may not be so hidden but I always love visiting the Little Creatures brewery or heading to the Yallingup bakery post surf and devouring a freshly baked fruit loaf.

Dish that sums up where I’m from: I don’t think one dish sums up Perth, but rather having a barbecue at the beach with friends and family in summer is a must.

Sweets or candy I remember fondly from home: I'm a sucker for a summer roll and also humbugs – my dad used to keep them in the car.




Brett Graham and his Berkshire muntjac dish at The Ledbury

Chef hometown: Newcastle, New South Wales

Time away from Australia:
17 years

First thing I do when I go back to Newcastle: Have breakfast at Mereweather Beach then swim in the ocean. I miss the open sea.

First meal I eat back in New South Wales: I always stop with my parents at Bill’s in Surry Hills for the sweetcorn fritters. I like to have lunch at Quaywhich has one of the most amazing views anywhere. Peter Gilmore is a phenomenal chef and I love his cooking.

Something no tourist should leave without trying: Fish and chips on Newcastle Harbour while watching the coal ships come in.


Fish and chips, Aussie-style (image: Katie Quinn Davies)

Home-cooked meal that most reminds me of growing up:
It has to be Mum’s salmon lasagne made with tinned salmon, cheese sauce and spring onions – it’s my Mum’s signature dish and she has it mastered.

Favourite coffee shops and restaurants discovered in Australia since leaving: The food and coffee scene in Newcastle has improved so much since I lived there. Places like Muse Restaurant, Subo and Restaurant Mason have shown the way.

Hidden gems in New South Wales and the surrounding area: In Hunter Valley it has to be Robert Molines at Bistro Molines. It’s a very special place with food cooked by a very special man.

Sweets or candy I remember fondly from home: Growing up, I used to eat Turner’s famous fruit blocks. I also used to pretend I was smoking a musk sweet called ‘Fags.’ (I think they changed the name so as not to encourage children to take up smoking!)




David Thompson and caramelised taro at Nahm

Chef hometown:
Sydney, New South Wales (although Bangkok is my real home)

Time away from Australia: 30 years

First thing I do when I go back to Sydney: I love walking through the botanical gardens, usually starting from the top of the Domain, near the Art Gallery, then down to the harbour and around to the Opera House. It’s a stirring stroll and one that makes me fall in love with Sydney’s beauty each and every time. 

Favourite restaurants and coffee shops discovered since leaving Australia: Just up the street from Long Chim, there's a little bar and restaurant that I like: Hubert. And how grateful I am for it to be so close. It is sophisticated and wonderfully louche, the very combination I think Sydney is – or should be if those accursed lock-out laws did not so restrict the natural inclination of the city and its denizens. 


Melon surprise at Restaurant Hubert (image: Keith Webb)

First thing I eat when I go home:
Well, Bangkok is home. I have lived there on and off for nigh on 30 years. But Sydney food… well, there’s just so much and at every style and level, though I confess I have not been able to enjoy such places as much as I would like to. Opening up Long Chim [in Sydney] has eaten up all my time, which means I have not had the chance to eat what I’d like. 

Home-cooked meal that most reminds me of growing up: The smell of Worcestershire sauce sprinkled over golden roast chicken fresh from the oven is my madeleine moment: one that transports me ambrosial to my mother’s kitchen. 

Sweets or candy remembered fondly from home: Please don’t tell anyone but I love mock cream [canned cream]. I remember with relish mock cream buns at school. My epicurean nose should wrinkle in disgust, however I cannot but revel in its undisguised artificial flavours and ingredients. Heaven!

The World's 50 Best Restaurants is moving to Melbourne in April 2017. Find out why we're excited about the new flavours of Australia with six restaurants to watch.

Now discover the latest Aussie restaurants to make the 50 Best Diners Discovery Series.