Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Restaurant awards -

On pa­per, it sounds easy. Just take a chef from one of the world’s best-liked restau­rants, bring her to Aus­tralia, con­nect her with the finest be­spoke pro­duc­ers, set her up in a stun­ning kitchen of her own in a lovely, com­fort­able room, backed by su­perb front-of-house staff and a dizzy­ingly good cel­lar. Of course, for chef Danielle Al­varez and the team from Merivale it’s been years of hard slog. Al­varez moved here from the US for the job in July 2014. Be­fore that she worked at Chez Panisse, an ex­pe­ri­ence that pro­foundly in­flu­enced her cook­ing. Fred’s, she says, is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween her kitchen and the farm­ers who grow the pro­duce. “What­ever they want to grow dic­tates what we have on the menu,” she says. “They’re the base of every­thing we do.” Again, easy to say; it’s mak­ing it a tasty re­al­ity that’s the chal­lenge. But, then, that’s ex­actly what makes Fred’s so mag­i­cal: it all feels not just ef­fort­less, but like it was meant to be, with a team uni­fied un­der a leader with rare com­mand of her craft. Fred’s, 380 Ox­ford St, Padding­ton, NSW, (02) 9240 3000

Bu­ca­tini with sar­dines and fen­nel.

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