We've delved deep into the archives to bring you this collection of photographs and memories celebrating Australia's rich restaurant history over the past four decades of the Good Food Guide.
Blyth and Gloria Staley at Fanny's April 23, 1979. Photo: Fairfax Media
Blyth and Gloria Staley, Fanny's, 1979
The Queen Mother of Melbourne's restaurant scene, Gloria Staley, with her husband Blyth at their celebrated restaurant, Fanny's, which set standards of excellence for 32 years. The couple also owned the more extroverted Glo Glo's and would regularly travel to Europe and return with the hottest new dishes to be introduced with style.
In 1986, Gloria Staley took her magic touch to Sydney and opened Chez Oz in Kings Cross with her daughter, Helen Spry. It was inspired by the glitzy brasseries of Hollywood. Lauren Bacall, Clive James and Kerry Packer were among the guests who rushed the place for deluxe fish and chips.
Josephine and Damien Pignolet, March 18, 1982. Photo: Fairfax Media
Damien and Josephine Pignolet, Claude's, 1982
The late Josephine Pignolet was a gifted chef who put her stamp on Australian cuisine. "Although somewhat younger than her peers - Gay Bilson, Stephanie Alexander and Anne Taylor - she lacked none of their idealism, thoughtfulness, enthusiasm and energy," wrote Herald restaurant critic Leo Schofield in a memoriam to the 31-year-old, who died in a car accident in 1987.
"Quiet, modest, shy, beautiful, she provided the inspiration that took Claude's, the restaurant she ran with her husband Damien, into the big league of Sydney dining establishments."
Established in 1990, the Good Food Guide's Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year Award honours her memory and influence.
Husband and wife team Peter and Bev Doyle at Reflections, November 8, 1983. Photo: Philip Wayne Lock
Peter and Beverley Doyle, Reflections, 1983
Two restaurants were awarded three hats in the first edition of The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, published in 1984. One was Berowra Waters Inn; the other was Reflections at Palm Beach, helmed by husband-and-wife team Peter and Bev Doyle.
"First courses are in the modified nouvelle cuisine mode – warm salads, mousselines of fish and the like – and the puddings are a joy," reported the Guide. "Beverley runs the dining room with great style and the staff are particularly attentive."
The Doyles relocated from Palm Beach in 1987 to operate Le Trianon in Potts Point, and later led other agenda-setting restaurants such as Cicada, Celsius and Est.
Sydney's Italian restaurateurs, The Mixing Pot, 1983
The crema della crema of Sydney's Italian restaurant talent gathered for a group photograph in 1983 to accompany a Walkley Award-winning article by former SMH Guide editor David Dale detailing the complex network linking Sydney's Italian restaurants.
Clockwise from bottom left: Beppi Polese (Beppi's), Lino Mascolo (then Lino's, now La Capannina), Giuseppe Mascolo (Mariu), Antonia and Giuseppe Zuzza (The Mixing Pot), Attilio Marinangeli (Darcy's), Aldo Zuzza (Darcy's), Gabrielle Cesta (Al Corso), Enzo Cesta (Al Corso), Armando Percuoco (then Pulcinella, now Buon Ricordo) and Doreen Orsatti (Chianti).
Phillip Searle and Barry Ross at Possums August 12, 1985. Photo: The Advertiser
Phillip Searle and Barry Ross, Possums, 1985
After studying fine art in Sydney and teaching painting in South Australia, Phillip Searle (left) became increasingly interested in food and its presentation. Searle joined partner Barry Ross at Adelaide's acclaimed Possums restaurant and the couple quickly became important figures in Australia's food scene.
Searle and Ross travelled east and dazzled Sydney with Oasis Seros in 1987, escaping to the Blue Mountains a few years later to open the more relaxed Vulcans. Searle's signature chequerboard ice-cream, a mad harmony of star anise ice-cream and pineapple sorbet fenced by liquorice gel, was hailed as one of the world's great desserts.
Stephanie Alexander, Stephanie's, 1986
Author, educator, chef, and champion of small producers, Stephanie Alexander has had a profound influence on the way Australians cook and think about food. Stephanie's opened in Melbourne in 1976 and would be at the heart of everything good about Australia's culinary identity for the next 21 years.
Tetsuya Wakuda, Ultimo's, 1987
When Ultimo's opened near Sydney's Powerhouse Museum in 1987, the Herald praised its chef, Tetsuya Wakuda, for combining the best principles of French and Japanese cooking. After two successful years at Ultimo's, Wakuda and his business partner split and the Japanese-born chef opened Tetsuya's in Rozelle, where his confit ocean trout became the poster dish for a new style of modern Australian cuisine. Tetsuya's relocated to its current Kent Street site in 2000 and the trout has never left the menu.
Neil Perry surveys restoration work at his new Rockpool restaurant in 1988. Photo: Fairfax Media
Neil Perry, Rockpool, 1988
When a pre-ponytailed Neil Perry was photographed for The Sydney Morning Herald in 1988, Rockpool was still under construction. The landmark Rocks restaurant opened six months later and Leo Schofield was more than impressed with the standard of food. "Retention of natural freshness and flavour of fish and shellfish are almost universal," the Herald restaurant critic wrote in 1989. "No matter how Perry spices up the basic ingredient, the base taste almost invariably triumphs. So far, Neil seems to have gotten almost everything right. Now all he needs to do is stick with it."
Bilson's at Circular Quay photographed November 10, 1988. Photo: Fairfax Media
A waiter prepares for service, Bilson's, 1988
"It is without doubt the most beautiful restaurant in Australia," Leo Schofield wrote in 1988 after inspecting harbourside fine-diner Bilson's on the eve of its opening. "From carpet to wine coolers to colour scheme, it is a complete triumph … let's hope the food lives up to all of this." And live up it did, initially thanks to Tony Bilson's French cooking and, from 2001 (after a name change to Quay), with Peter Gilmore gifting Sydney diners sea pearls, smoked pork jowl and the snow egg.
Chef Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan changing bistro traditions April 15, 1992. Photo: Sage
Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan, Paddington Inn Bistro, 1992
In late 1991, business partners Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan took over the Paddington Inn Bistro from Steve Manfredi, and Sydneysiders couldn't get enough of Moran's modern Mediterranean-style food. Moran and Sullivan amicably ended their business partnership in 2015, but not before launching Circular Quay's Aria, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month.
Lake House owner-chef Alla Wolf-Tasker in the kitchen with her mother Katherine in 1993. Photo: Philip Castle
Alla Wolf-Tasker cooks with her mother, 1993
With Alla and Allan Wolf-Tasker at the helm, Daylesford's Lake House retreat has set a benchmark for regional dining for more than 30 years, continually celebrating local suppliers and evolving its restaurant, guest house and spa.
This photograph was originally published with an Age Epicure article toasting the women of Australia's restaurant industry and their mothers. "I grew up with that wonderful celebration of food," said Wolf-Tasker. "Our house was like a restaurant – people were always welcome and no one ever left without eating."
Chef Jacques Reymond in 1994. Photo: Cathryn Tremain
Jacques Reymond, Jacques Reymond Restaurant, 1994
There's not too many culinary awards Jacques Reymond hasn't won, including a whopping total of 80 hats over more than 25 years for his big-occasion Prahran restaurant, which closed in 2013 after the Burgundy native announced his retirement at The Age Good Food Guide Awards. Reymond continues to actively support the industry, and lends his expertise to other Reymond family restaurants run by his children including Bistro Gitan and the new Frederic in Cremorne.
Gay Bilson at Berowra Waters Inn, October 27, 1993. Photo: Robert Pearce
Gay Bilson, Berowra Waters Inn, 1993
Gay Bilson made the front page of the Herald in 1993 when the chef and restaurateur announced she would sell Berowra Waters Inn for an asking price of $1.1 million. Bilson said she didn't see what all the fuss was about - "it's just a restaurant, for god's sake", she told the Herald.
It was, however, a very high-profile restaurant, where Bilson and former Greek electrician Janni Kyritsis were responsible for the most exceptional and sensitively wrought cooking in the country.
Mietta O'Donnell, Philippa Sibley, Donovan Cooke and an unknown chef in 1996. Photo: Jessica Dale
Mietta O'Donnell, Philippa Sibley and Donovan Cooke, Mietta's, 1996
Mietta O'Donnell (left) and Tony Knox opened their iconoclastic restaurant in an old butcher shop on Brunswick Street in 1974. By the time the first Age Good Food Guide was published five years later, it was morphing from a risk-taking BYO into one of Melbourne's great fine dining salons, a transformation that was completed by the move to an ornate Victorian building in Alfred Place in 1984.
Chef Donovan Cooke and dessert queen Philippa Sibley worked for O'Donnell when the couple arrived to Australia from England in 1996 (also the restaurant's last year of operation), and Jaqcues Reymond launched his Melbourne career Miettas' pass. Other alumni include Greg Malouf, Matt McConnell, Tony Bilson, Stephanie Alexander and Rinaldo Di Stasio in one of his first jobs on a dining room floor. (NB: If any readers can identify the chef on the right, please let the Good Food team know and we can update our records accordingly.)
Maurizio Terzini waiting tables at the Melbourne Wine Room, 1996. Photo: Craig Abraham
Maurice Terzini, Melbourne Wine Room, 1996
A young Maurizio Terzini waits tables at Melbourne Wine Room, the transformed corner bar of St Kilda's George Hotel. Food writers weren't quite sure how to categorise Terzini's new concept when it opened. Was it a bar, a restaurant or a bottle shop with exceptional Italian food? Whatever the case, Melbourne Wine Room reimagined what an Australian pub could be. Terzini continues to blaze trails with Sydney venues such as Icebergs and The Dolphin.
Philippe Mouchel surrounded by staff as they prepare for Bocuse restaurant's closure. Photo: Andrew De La Rue
Philippe Mouchel and staff, Restaurant Paul Bocuse, 1997
In 1991, the king of French cuisine, Paul Bocuse, sent protege Philippe Mouchel to Melbourne to take command of his new Australian outpost. The grand fine-diner burned bright for six years at the Daimaru department store in La Trobe Street, and was the only restaurant to be awarded five hats in 1994. (Yes, between 1994 and 2002, restaurants in The Age Good Food Guide could receive a maximum of five hats, returning to three in the 2003 edition.) Mouchel and the Bocuse team took a moment to pose for this photograph just before the restaurant's final service.
Banc restaurant at Martin Place, 1996. Photo: Steve Baccon
The brigade takes a cigarette break, Banc, 1999
Under the leadership of Irish-born chef Liam Tomlin, fine-diner Banc was one of Sydney's most extravagant and awarded restaurants during its six-year run, which ended in 2003. The Martin Place venue was famous for having one of the most volatile kitchens in town, while also producing top chef talent including Matt Kemp, Colin Fassnidge, Chui Lee Luk, Justin North and Brett Graham.
Guy Grossi, Florentino, 2002
Chef and restaurateur Guy Grossi takes a moment with the day's newspapers. The portrait was part of a larger Age photo essay capturing what chefs do with "the blessed five minutes" they have to themselves each day. "Grab a coffee, check the headlines, slurp a mouthful of something ... something fast." Grossi took over Florentino in 1999 and is the sixth owner of the grand Bourke Street restaurant in its 91-year history.
Kylie Kwong in her Surry Hills kitchen, 2002. Photo: George Fetting
Kylie Kwong, Billy Kwong, 2002
Before redefining Australian-Chinese cooking at her own restaurant, Kylie Kwong gained recognition at Neil Perry's Wokpool as head chef, and later bills in Darlinghurst and Surry Hills. In partnership with good mate Bill Granger, Kwong opened Billy Kwong in 2000.
"I knew how to set up a kitchen, how to work hard and keep my mood dynamic," she told the Herald when this photograph was taken in 2002. "I'd done ordering, rostering, hiring and firing, paperwork. The only thing I hadn't experienced was wondering whether anyone was actually going to come."
The tiny restaurant was an instant hit and Kwong bought Granger's share of the business 12 months after opening.
Jeremy Strode, Bistrode, 2006
This photograph of one of Australia's most respected chefs, the late Jeremy Strode, featured on the cover of Good Living, forerunner to Good Food, for a story on cooks ditching special occasion restaurants to open bistros, brasseries and wine bars.
Over his 27 years cooking in Australian restaurants such as Sydney's Bistrode and MG Garage, and Pomme and Langton's in Melbourne, Strode's influence on the industry he loved was immeasurable. He was named the Vittoria Coffee Legend Award posthumously in 2017.
Ben Shewry, 2009
Attica's Ben Shewry in a Elsternwick laneway picking purslane for a story about chefs who forage their ingredients. Attica had been named Restaurant of the Year for the first time in The Age Good Food Guide a few months earlier. "In a way, it's quite an understated restaurant, but the team there has just committed to a strategy of continuous improvement - getting all the fundamentals right and taking them to that higher level," said Guide co-editor Necia Wilden. Nothing about that has changed 10 years later.
Australian artist John Olsen and Lucio Galletto in 2010. Photo: Steven Siewert
Lucio Galletto and John Olsen, Tim Olsen Gallery, 2010
For more than 25 years, artist John Olsen (left) has painted the menu art for Lucio Galletto's two-hatted Paddington restaurant, Lucio's. Here, the dear friends celebrate life, love, food and wine for the launch of Olsen's exhibition Culinaria: The Cuisine of the Sun. Chef Fernando Damasco is on paella duties.
Father and son Flower Drum team, Jason and Anthony Lui. Photo: Eddie Jim
Anthony and Jason Lui, Flower Drum, 2013
Flower Drum executive chef Anthony Lui (left) and son Jason, the restaurant's operations manager, are among the hardest working duos in Melbourne hospitality. Gilbert Lau established Flower Drum in 1975, with Anthony Lui taking over the kitchen a decade later. The Cantonese institution was reviewed in the first edition of The Age Good Food Guide in 1980 and every year since, and still holds two hats for its beautifully burnished Peking duck, extensive wine list and expert service.
Sean, Andrew and Matt McConnell at Cutler and Co Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen
Sean, Andrew and Matt McConnell, Cutler & Co, 2017
Raised in Melbourne's Box Hill North, brothers Sean (Rebel Rebel in Canberra), Andrew (Cumulus Inc, Cutler & Co, Supernormal) and Matt McConnell (Bar Lourinha) are among the most accomplished restaurant operators in the country. Sean McConnell thanks his parents for having an enormous influence on heir careers and work ethic. "They taught us about the importance of family," he told Good Food leading up to their one-off "Bros Before Stoves" event at Cutler in 2017. "Their lifestyle was fast and they worked really hard to raise the kids."
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