BEST NEW TALENT Josh Niland
Saint Peter, Sydney
Proving that hard work and humility, dedication to craft, respect for ingredients and innovative technique can all co-exist (along with waste-consciousness, and a savvy social-media presence), Josh Niland cuts a hell of a figure in the trade – when he’s not too busy, that is, cutting fillets from fresh Yamba anchovies with surgical precision, ageing familiar fish to rare succulence and making rock stars of bycatch species. Saint Peter, the restaurant he opened in Sydney this time last year, immediately raised the bar for seafood cookery.
Niland’s skills didn’t spring from nowhere; he put in the years with fish-whisperer Steve Hodges at Fish Face as a young (or, rather, even younger) chef, learning how to prep and cook just about everything that swims in the sea. But one of the things that makes him so impressive is his thirst for more knowledge, and his exploration is relentless, his menus ever-changing, delving into the possibilities of dry-ageing fish, or making its offal delicious.
And Niland’s creativity is quite something to see in full flight, whether he’s stuffing the heads of baby octopus to make outré Scotch eggs for brunch, roasting cauliflower in eel skins, making a sauce for coral trout with its bones, head and liver. And just when you thought it was all sounding too easy he manages to seamlessly integrate native plants into the mix with his beloved local fish catch and do clever things with food waste along the way. All this and he’s only 28. We can’t wait to see what happens when he cracks 30. Saint Peter, 362 Oxford St, Paddington, NSW, (02) 8937 2530