The good-hearted team at Folonomo (from left), David Poirier, Jo Ward, Michelle Powell, and Nicolas Degryse.
The good-hearted team at Folonomo (from left), David Poirier, Jo Ward, Michelle Powell, and Nicolas Degryse. Photo: Jessica Hromas

Scott Bolles

Former Vincent and Bloodwood chef Jo Ward is back in the Sydney food game after a stint in Europe, landing at a Surry Hills restaurant start-up opening this week.

Folonomo, which is opening on the corner of Bourke and Albion Streets, is an abbreviation of the restaurant's charter. For Love Not Money is its bottom line and financier Matthew Byrne is underwriting the venture, which sends 100 per cent of profits back to not-for-profit organisations. Folonomo, and its cafe neighbour Gratia (Latin for thanks) even have their own foundation.

Ward is collaborating in the kitchen with chef Michelle Powell. The duo recently returned from a stint working for a wealthy family in Europe. They were drafted in following chef Rachel Grisewood's departure from the project.

Ward describes the brief as global food; this suits her background, which includes Asian cooking. "We've got a spanner crab roll on the opening menu, and the chickpea pancake from my Bloodwood days, but a bit different; it'll be served with pickled fennel and ocean trout tartare," she says.

One of numerous feel-good openings for 2015, many of the contractors who helped build Folonomo worked for nothing, and some  suppliers gave heavy discounts. La Grande Bouffe owner David Poirier helped with the design and set-up.