NEW RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR Fred’s
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.