DIANNE BUTLER OUT OF THE BOX
IDON’T know that I’ve ever come across a restaurant that’s got its own call centre. They show the one belonging to Tetsuya’s and it doesn’t look like the ones you see in your head when you get a phone call about aluminium cladding at dinner time.
Gee, hasn’t Tetsuya Wakuda done well. Came to Australia from Japan in 1982 with, as he puts it, no money, no language, no skills, nothing.
‘‘ But somehow, I liked this place. I don’t know what I thought. Just hopped in a taxi, came to the city. That’s my start.’’
I really liked this show. Though I could’ve done with a bit more cooking. Seeing him do his thing. I can’t carp though, there’s plenty in it. We meet Danny White, for instance, the chef who gave him his first job 28 years ago, cleaning 5kg of whiting every day, scaling them, taking all the bones out, a job everybody in the kitchen hated. They’re still friends. Says something about both of them, really. Tetsuya then went to work for Tony Bilson, a pioneer in the Sydney restaurant scene, and in 1987 he and Bilson’s head waiter opened their own place. There’s a great story surrounding this, full of drama. It’s my favourite moment in the show.
He opened Tetsuya’s in Rozelle after that, and that’s really where it all started. He’s in Kent St now, in the Sydney CBD.
Done well: Tetsuya Wakuda And in Singapore. I know a couple of people who just went to the one in Singapore. It’s still being built during the show tonight. Twenty-five chefs right there while you’re eating and four kitchens for 60 covers and four separate rooms. Said it was amazing.
Tetsuya seems so nice. Refers to himself as a cook at one point, for crying out loud. So obviously there’s no shortage of people lining up to say how great he is. Including major chefs Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adria, from elBulli.
I loved Neville Rockliff, the guy from Petuna seafood, who supplies Tetsuya with ocean trout for his beautiful confit dish which, as Neville says, is one of the most photographed dishes in the world. Neville doesn’t look as if he sleeps well. Tetsuya’s Pursuit of Excellence SBS One, 7.30pm