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David Thompson

David Thompson

Nahm chef David Thompson opens his latest restaurant early to cater for GT's annual night of nights.

David Thompson, the boy from Earlwood who left these shores 17 years ago and went on to become the most globally lauded interpreter of Thai food, makes a triumphant return to his home town this month with the opening of Long Chim in the Sydney CBD. In the intervening years, he has opened a host of celebrated restaurants, and won the first Michelin star for Thai food along the way. Where better, then, to hold the Oscars of the Australian restaurant world than at his latest establishment?

This Wednesday evening the 2016 Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards will be held at Long Chim, ahead of its official opening on 29 August. More than 200 guests, including the country's top chefs, sommeliers, maîtres d' and restaurateurs, will gather at Long Chim for a gala banquet dinner, hosted by Gourmet Traveller's editor, Anthea Loucas Bosha, and chief restaurant critic and deputy editor, Pat Nourse.

"Like any new restaurant opening, the GT Awards will be a baptism of fire for us," says Thompson. "I'm delighted to be back in Sydney and feeling like some kind of culinary prodigal son."

Green papaya salad and grilled pork skewers

Thompson is recognised globally as the foremost ambassador for Thai cuisine. Long Chim Sydney marks the return to his hometown, and follows on from the success of Long Chim Perth (which opened in January) and Long Chim Singapore, as well as Nahm, his flagship restaurant in Bangkok, and Nahm in London, which he closed when he moved to Thailand. "With each incarnation of Long Chim the menu develops, improves and evolves," says Thompson. "I'm so looking forward to opening and developing the menu even further."

The Restaurant Awards will be an exclusive first taste of Long Chim Sydney. For GT's annual night of nights, the award-winning chef has devised a banquet of more than a dozen dishes, including everything from a fiery Chiang Mai chicken larp with Northern herbs and spices to a zingy minced prawn and pork soup with Chinese cabbage and shiitake mushrooms. "If we can get it all out, it will be a great taste of what we do," Thompson says.

Prawns baked with vermicelli

If Thompson is nervous about cooking for Australia's top chefs and critics, he doesn't let it show. "I'm going to f--cking pull them in and make them work," he says. "They're going to be delivering food. I've got stories on them all."

Details of the winners are in the September issue of Gourmet Traveller, on newsstands along with the new edition of the annual Gourmet Traveller Australian Restaurant Guide, the country's only national restaurant guide, presented by Vittoria Coffee, and supporting sponsors Ilve, Petuna and Alessi, on Thursday 18 August.

Follow all the action on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #GTRestaurantAwards.

See a full list of the finalists here.

Long Chim Sydney, 14 Martin Pl (entry via Angel Pl), Sydney, NSW, longchimsydney.com

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