Top Australian chefs Tetsuya Wakuda, David Thompson and others expand overseas

Australian-Turkish chef Somer Sivrioglu opens Efendy Istanbul in March.
Australian-Turkish chef Somer Sivrioglu opens Efendy Istanbul in March. Photo: Supplied

Watch out restaurant world, a posse of chefs who cut their teeth in Sydney – Tetsuya Wakuda and David Thompson included – are shrugging off pandemic caution and opening new restaurants overseas.

Australian-Turkish chef Somer Sivrioglu will join the expansion party next month, opening Efendy Istanbul.

"I think the world has recognised what we bring: good food with an attitude that's not pretentious," Sivrioglu says. "Australians are worldly and seen as easy to work with."

Former Nour head chef Roy Ner has finally swung open the doors at Jeru in London.
Former Nour head chef Roy Ner has finally swung open the doors at Jeru in London. Photo: Tony Harris

Efendy, which borrows its moniker from Sivrioglu's original restaurant in Balmain, is headed into the former home of a half-century-old grand kebab restaurant, in the posh Istanbul neighbourhood of Etiler. It'll also sprinkle a touch of Australian interior design style. "The vibe will be very Sydney industrial chic," the chef says.

Sivrioglu's role as judge on MasterChef Turkey has the dual advantage of increasing his profile in the country and allowing him enough time to properly oversee both his new baby while also tending to his rapidly expanding portfolio of Sydney venues.

Tetsuya Wakuda is another chef who juggles his time between Sydney and overseas interests, opening Waku Ghin in Singapore more than a decade ago.

In the next couple of months he'll add a long-awaited sibling restaurant, Wakuda Singapore, at Marina Bay Sands. The result of a partnership with 50 Eggs Hospitality Group, Wakuda will also open a Wakuda restaurant at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas in the first quarter of 2022.

Last week the British media reported David Thompson, who launched his career at Darley Street Thai in Sydney in 1992, had nabbed a site in London's Chinatown precinct, where he's tipped to open a branch of his casual Long Chim restaurant.

Roy Ner, the former head chef at Nour restaurant in Surry Hills, has also chosen London, where he's finally swung open the doors at modern Middle Eastern Jeru restaurant after a false start in December.

"We opened for 12 days before we had to shut our doors due to COVID," a spokeswoman for Jeru told Good Food.

The luxe Mayfair restaurant, which has also launched a bakery in recent weeks, is starting to get some traction in London for its Aussie produce, with dry-aged kingfish and Jacks Creek wagyu on its menu. Ner's halloumi doughnuts are proving an early hit with the well-heeled locals.