September 9, 2015

Doyennes of the kitchen

Across Australia, some of the country’s leading female chefs are at the helm of thriving city-based restaurants. Here’s a taste of what they have on offer for that next business meeting.

Across Australia, some of the country’s leading female chefs are at the helm of thriving city-based restaurants. Here’s a taste of what they have on offer for that next business meeting.


Rosa’s Kitchen

22 Punch Lane, Melbourne, VIC

Tucked down a CBD laneway, the restaurant of legendary Italian-born, Melbourne-raised chef Rosa Mitchell (pictured above, right) was welcomed with gratitude when it opened last year. The Sicilian trattoria – with its simple interior of white-washed walls, concrete floors and wooden tables – is a haven for lovers of her produce-driven comfort food finely tuned to the seasons. Alongside head chef Lucy David (left), Mitchell sends out rustic dishes from a blackboard menu starring ‘best of season’ ingredients – many sourced from her own farm, such as the chicory and mulberries in her custard and mulberry tart. Start with an antipasto of morsels such as warm olives, cauliflower fritters, mortadella, grilled eggplant or pickled green tomato. Follow with a slow-cooked lamb spezzatino, a ragu or maybe orecchiette with cauliflower, saffron and anchovies. Finish with cannoli made the Sicilian way with ricotta filling. Or simply perch at the window to enjoy a bar snack with a glass from the list of southern Italian and Australian wines including a selection of luscious Italian marsala.


Trustee Bar & Bistro

133 St Georges Terrace, Perth, WA


The Trustee operates over two floors within a majestic art deco building at Perth’s chic Brookfield Place, serving French bistro-style food and good wine in a stylish room of parquetry floors, polished concrete, dark wood tables and glass. Trustee executive chef Michelle Forbes passionately supports Western Australian produce, which shines in her rustic flavour-packed menu. Signature dishes such as local marron and barramundi are in high demand as is her chateaubriand for two with Paris mash and a béarnaise aioli. “The 450 gram rib-eye’s always popular and the slow-braised beef cheeks are big too,” Forbes says. The new quick lunch menu is great value and includes favourites such as steak frites, and pearl barley risotto with asparagus, peas and pecorino. To drink? Choose from the extensive list of Australian and international wines or select from the 100 rums in the new Angel’s Cut rum bar upstairs with its winged figurehead over the bar and comfortable leather chairs. Patrons are also encouraged to ‘raid’ owner Scott Taylor’s cellar, so ask for a peek.


Il Centro

Eagle Street Pier, 1 Eagle Street, Brisbane, QLD


Catherine Anders, executive chef at this long-time stalwart of Brisbane’s restaurant scene, announced her plans to be a chef when she was 12. “I started my apprenticeship at 15 and loved it – I still do.” At the light-filled casual yet elegant riverside venue with views of the Story Bridge, Anders’ simple, sophisticated Italian-influenced menu includes the restaurant’s signature dish of sand crab lasagne. Between 300 and 400 portions are devoured by diners each week. But there’s plenty more on the extensive menu, from snapper with prawn ravioli and a white wine garlic sauce to the perfect grain-fed Kimberley Red beef carpaccio with 24-month old parmigiano-reggiano, capers and horseradish cream. To finish there are Il Centro’s much-loved dessert soufflés or tiramisu with mocha sauce. Combined with top service delivered by white aproned floor staff and an impressive collection of wines, you have the complete magnifico package.



414 Bourke Street, Surry Hills, NSW


Leading the team in the open kitchen of high-profile chef Colin Fassnidge’s newest restaurant is head chef Carla Jones. Serving hearty rustic food in a stylish industrial chic interior, Jones shares Fassnidge’s nose-to-tail eating philosophy; but offal is just one part of the story at this buzzy venue. Signature dishes include braised beef brisket and a whole slow-cooked lamb shoulder, or leave the decisions to Jones and go for the ‘collective’ menu featuring four courses for the table to share. Or opt for the adventurous ‘odd bits’ menu – the offal alternative to the above. As for sweets, ask for the ‘white chocolate sandwich’ with its combination of ice-cream, bitter chocolate crisps and dulce de leche caramel; it’s so good it may provoke a riot if ever removed. Meanwhile, an aged Pedro Ximenez from the wine list delivers that delicious ending to the meal.


Ándre’s Cucina & Polenta Bar

94 Frome St, Adelaide, SA

Talented chef Patricia Strecksuss runs the kitchen at this warm and welcoming venue – last year named South Australia’s best Italian restaurant in the state’s premier food awards. A celebration of true Italian cuisine in all its sophisticated simplicity, polenta is a big drawcard with four creamy options on offer. But the chef’s favourite dishes include the handcrafted potato and roast fennel ravioli with duck ragu and parmigiano-reggiano, followed by goat’s cheese panna cotta with lemon polenta cake and raspberry jelly. Don’t miss the signature gnocchi made daily in small batches for freshness and lightness – it’s not on the menu and is hand sold by the passionate staff until it’s gone. While the menu and blackboard specials offer much more to choose from, Strecksuss has her staff encourage diners to put themselves in the chefs’ hands. “It allows the kitchen to put our best foot forward and the customer to have the best experience,” says Strecksuss. And a glass of something to complete the experience? There’s much to please on the Italian-heavy international wine list.

This article was first published in Business View magazine (Summer 2014). For more articles and interactivity, download the iPad edition of Business View for free via our app, NAB Think.

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