Eighteen months after his Becasse restaurant group crashed, chef Justin North is headed back to the kitchen, fronting the soon to be rebooted restaurant at The Centennial Hotel in Woollahra, Sydney.
Last week, publican Anthony Medich paid a reported $6 million for the gastro pub. Pub dining rooms are more often where chefs start out, but for North it'll be more of a rebirth.
Since the award-winning Becasse closed at Westfield, North has consulted for hotels and burger start-ups, but this will be his first full-time move back into the kitchen.
The North-fronted restaurant will open late March after a redesign by Luchetti Krelle.
"The food will be more in the style of Becasse's earlier days in Albion Street [Surry Hills]. Less complicated than we were cooking later. It'll be produce-driven comfort food," the chef says.
Conscious of The Centennial's food history, North declined an opportunity to tear out the pub's wood fire oven, one of the first in the city. "We'll use it for slow roasts, maybe pizza down the track. Pay respect to what's happened there," he says.
The opening menu will include "wood-fired" Welsh rarebit and a plum tart with brown sugar ice cream.
Medich, who successfully relaunched the Woolwich Pier Hotel, has been in discussion with North for some time.
"We really wanted to get the location right before we did something," North says.
- Find Justin North recipes here