Ahead of Danielle Alvarez's long-awaited Paddington restaurant Fred's opening this week, we've round up seven recipes she's shared with us. The below feature was originally published in our November 2015 issue.
Alice Waters says she took all the best of Chez Panisse with her. Justin Hemmes says she cooks some of the best food he's ever eaten. With such high praise, it's no wonder there's much excitement about chef Danielle Alvarez's arrival in Sydney to head up Fred's, a new restaurant in Hemmes' Merivale Group.
Born in Miami to Cuban parents, Alvarez spent nigh on four years cooking at Chez Panisse in California, and though she also worked at the glittering likes of The French Laundry, it was the Alice Waters style at Chez Panisse that captured her imagination.
It's this fluid, collaborative, produce-first approach that will be the essence of the new restaurant. "I don't like muddled flavours," she says. "If it's a piece of fish, I want it to taste like fish. No tweezers or squeezy bottles."
At Chez Panisse the menus were only ever a guideline for what was cooked each day. "We each decided which course we wanted to do," Alvarez says.
"If your vision was for pasta that day, you did pasta. I'd say there are very few restaurants in the world that operate that way."
Heading her own kitchen for the first time, Alvarez is set on creating a similarly collaborative environment - changing the menu often and visiting the farms from which she regularly sources produce. She says the restaurant will have the welcoming vibe of a home kitchen - albeit an impressive one, with a wood-burning hearth and a separate wood-burning oven. "I want people to understand how it comes together," she says. "I want it to feel alive."
At heart, Alvarez's food is about relationships; whether it's with her producers, customers, or with friends and family gathering around the stove pulling nests of crisp spring-onion and broad bean tips straight from the pot.
"We get so caught up in things being hard," she says, "but you can create an environment that makes people excited about cooking and eating. I don't want to come off too 'Kumbaya', but it's a goal. I've seen it work and it's possible."
Recipes by Danielle Alvarez