David Thompson opened his new restaurant early last night to cater for GT's annual night of nights. And what a party it was.
There was plenty of flavour and spice last night as the cream of Australian hospitality gathered in Sydney for the Gourmet Traveller restaurant awards.
How do you cater for a room full of the country's top kitchen talent? Getting the ultimate chef's chef is a good place to start: the awards not only launched GT's new restaurant guide, but also marked David Thompson's return to Sydney restaurants after a 17-year hiatus with the first night of feasting at Long Chim in Martin Place.
It was an evening that celebrated the hottest food and dining talent our nation has to offer. Momofuku Seiobo was named Australia's number-one restaurant, Attica's Ben Shewry took home Chef of the Year, and Sydney's Restaurant Hubert scored a double-header, New Restaurant of the Year and Wine List of the Year.
"It's been a big night, but Australia has a lot to celebrate right now," says Pat Nourse, the guide's editor and Gourmet Traveller's chief restaurant critic and deputy editor. "You can open the new edition of the restaurant guide on any page and find something inspiring, something exciting, something unexpected, all around the country."
More than 160 guests filled the glamorous Long Chim Sydney, with Australia's leading chefs and restaurateurs flying into town especially for the event - Andrew McConnell, Jock Zonfrillo, Dan Hunter and Ben Shewry among them. They were joined by top-tier local talent including Neil Perry, Kylie Kwong, Peter Gilmore, Maurice Terzini, Dan Hong and many other notable personalities from the hospitality industry.
After nearly two decades away from Sydney, David Thompson kicked off his return to his hometown with an impressive array of snacks, including a fiery Chiang Mai-style chicken larb with chilli and herbs.
A Thai banquet of a dozen dishes followed, a zingy minced prawn and pork soup with Chinese cabbage and shiitake mushrooms among them. And the sizzle didn't stop there. Joel Amos of natural and sustainable wine distributor DRNKS made sure what was in the glass was just as interesting as what was on the plate (a little Si Vintners here, a little Latto Vino there), while guests also enjoyed Tanqueray and tonic with pink grapefruit as platters of deep-fried squid, grilled ocean trout and fragrant red curry rolled out from the kitchen. Vittoria-tinis of Vittoria-coffee infused rum, pineapple and lemon, and Vittoria Secret cocktails with Santa Vittoria Aranciata Rosso, vodka and Aperol also circled the room.
The launch of Australia's only national restaurant guide deserves a special stage, and Long Chim didn't disappoint. "I think David has outdone himself - it's a more than fitting home-coming for one of the nation's most celebrated chefs," says Gourmet Traveller editor Anthea Loucas Bosha. "The food-lovers of Sydney are in for a real treat."
The good times continued well into the night as the winners clung to their Alessi-designed awards and caught up over more of those delicious cocktails, durian ice-cream and (perhaps our new favourite dessert) grilled sticky rice with banana.
A special thanks must go to our major partners, Vittoria Coffee and Santa Vittoria Acqua Minerale for their continued support, and to fellow sponsors Ilve, Petuna, Alessi, Tanqueray, DRNKS, and Singha beer.
And with that, we're proud to present the Gourmet Traveller 2017 Australian Restaurant Guide. For more details on all the winners plus a year of wonderful eating, pick up your copy with the September issue - on newsstands now.