How is it Rick Stein's Australian restaurant at Mollymook has survived a decade when so many other big name English celebrity chefs transit our food scene at warp speed?
Mitchell Turner, head chef at Stein's just-opened restaurant at the new Bannisters Hotel, at Port Stephens, believes his globe-trotting owner offers a great mix of hands-on and hands-off.
"We have 15 or so of his books we can go to for recipes. Then Rick lets us spin it for the Australian palate and local produce. Rick and his wife Sarah really know food, you discuss changes with them. He might send a message saying this dish is really doing well [in the restaurant in Britain] so we might try it here," Turner says.
The young chef, who has worked for Stein for four years, says it helps Stein isn't an absentee chef-owner: "He's here six times a year."
Stein's "hero dish" oysters charentaise is on the opening menu, as is his seafood pie (a best seller at Mollymook) and marinated tuna with passionfruit, chilli, lime and coriander.
"We've taken one of his recipes for monkfish and used wild kingfish from Terrigal instead," Turner says.
So, how does the new Port Stephens restaurant compare with the Mollymook's waterside setting? "It might be even a little bit better," Turner adds.
Open Mon-Fri dinner (from 6pm); Sat-Sun noon-9pm
Bannisters Hotel, 147 Soldiers Point Rd, Soldiers Point, bannisters.com.au/port-stephens/