Good Food Guide 2022: The Sydney innovators

Josh Niland at his new Charcoal Fish takeaway.
Josh Niland at his new Charcoal Fish takeaway. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

The people shaping a new NSW.

Josh Niland

Saint Peter, Fish Butchery, Charcoal Fish

Changing the perception of seafood

Pioneer chef Josh Niland introduced the fine dining world to "scale to tail" eating when he opened his first restaurant, Saint Peter, back in 2017. And now he has the dining public comfortable with ordering beyond the fillet, he's swung open the doors to Charcoal Fish, serving arguably the city's best fish and chips as well as a menu of sustainably caught seafood specials, all cooked over wood fire.

This hybrid venue – essentially upscale takeaway with the option to dine in – heralds a change in the way Niland thinks restaurants should pitch themselves, utilising a model that's ready to flip to takeaway at the mere suggestion of another lockdown. 

If other restaurateurs aren't thinking along similar lines, he says, "they need to." 

Matt Whiley

Re

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Saving the planet, one delicious drink at a time 

Matt Whiley (ex-Scout, London), has created a closed loop bar focusing on diverted waste with maximum taste.

Not only is the 80-seat venue built on upcycled materials – from benchtops made with recycled milk bottles to banquettes clothed in pineapple-leaf fibre – it's Whiley's aim for his bar to be 100 per cent waste-free in the future.

The drinks are based on oversupply, using whatever fresh produce is left over from growers, so the end result goes into cocktails rather than being left on the ground.

House wine is poured from cask bags rather than individual bottles, and the food menu follows a similar mantra of produce-driven simplicity. The result is a call to arms for the bar industry and a semi-guilt-free drinking experience for the rest of us.

Harvest Bites

By OzHarvest

Helping deliver more meals to people in need

The great work of this Sydney charity, which feeds thousands of people in need every week, continues with its meal home-delivery service. Enlisting the talents of OzHarvest ambassador chefs such as Jacqui Challinor (Nomad), Paul Farag (Nour) and Trisha Greentree (Fratelli Paradiso), the Monday Meals and Marketplace initiatives provide cooked meals and/or meal kits, delivered for a $15 fee.

The in-built donation from each purchase goes back to OzHarvest to assist in delivering more meals to people at risk. On top of meal kits, the site offers fresh produce boxes and pantry items from the likes of Moon Mart, Olsson's (sea salt flakes) and the Fermentalists. There is also an option to send a random act of kindness, in which you can nominate a meal pack for delivery to a family in need within OzHarvest's charity network.

Chocolatier, Millie Jung, making couverture chocolate at Messina, in Sydney. Messina are now producing chocolate on a commercial scale for restaurants. 3rd february 2020 Photo: Janie Barrett

Gelato Messina's couverture chocolate. Photo: Janie Barrett

Gelato Messina

Changing the conversation around chocolate

Gelato heavyweight Messina has shifted its focus to chocolate. The idea for the Messina brand of chocolate (which is distributed by specialty food suppliers Two Providores) came about when questions arose about the provenance of the chocolate used for its gelato production. Messina was not 100 per cent clear on where the cocoa for that chocolate was sourced from.

Now the company buys Fairtrade cocoa from Ecuador and works with chefs such as Alex Prichard (Icebergs) and Ross Lusted (Woodcut) to make something unique for each restaurant.

It's also been in talks with Firedoor's Lennox Hastie about smoking the cocoa beans in his wood-fired oven to make a caramelised milk chocolate. Next-level stuff.

GOOD FOOD. Kylie Kwong, with her wife Nell, mum Pauline Kwong and a group of close supporters and friends outsider her new restaurant - Lucky Kwong in South Eveleigh. Photographed Friday 14th May 2021. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH GOOD FOOD 210514

Kylie Kwong surrounded by her supporters and friends outside Lucky Kwong. Photo: James Brickwood

Kylie Kwong

Lucky Kwong

Championing local producers, food and culture

Kylie Kwong's new canteen-style restaurant and takeaway, Lucky Kwong, is more than a place to get a delicious spring pancake, it's also a devotion to the producers she's worked with over the years, such as Saskia Beer Farm Produce, Tathra Place, Fish Butchery and more. Even the honey is sourced locally from Kwong's rooftop hives in Kings Cross, above Wayside Chapel. 

Her big focus is on collaborations with people such as Cudgenburra and Bundjalung man, Clarence Slockee, the director of Jiwah, an Indigenous company specialising in cultural landscape and design. With a crew of young Aboriginal horticulturists, Jiwah grows more than 60 species of native plants around South Eveleigh. Many of these feature in Lucky Kwong dishes.

This article features in the Good Food Guide 2022 magazine, published on November 30 with presenting partners Citi and Vittoria Coffee, and free with The Sydney Morning Herald. Also on sale from December 7 in newsagents and supermarkets.