The Negroni is the preferred icebreaker in the Buzo social circle. “You want it to pack a punch,” says Todd Garratt, “to loosen the tongue.” It gets the conversation flowing, adds Traci Trinder. “And after a few drinks,” says James Hird, “everyone is straight-in-the-eye talking.”
Chefs Garratt and Hird and front-of-house dynamo Trinder are the brains behind Buzo, a small Italian restaurant in Woollahra that happens to be one of the best trattorias in Sydney. “There are no barriers here,” says Garratt. “Which is what I think a trattoria should be,” continues Hird. “Casual, laid-back, delivering the best product you can for the price.”
To loyal diners, the trio is the ideal representation of the work-hard-play-hard ethic, and their brand of teamwork is enviable – not least because it involves equal parts Negronis and Reschs Pilsener. Diners, Trinder reckons, quickly appreciate the Buzo way of doing things. “They feel at ease, wandering into the kitchen and having a chat to the boys,” she says. “We’re good friends with heaps of our customers – it’s a relaxed, genuinely seasonal neighbourhood restaurant.”
When it comes to entertaining at home or on a weekend away, Hird believes in advance preparation so that you can have more time to savour those drinks and conversation. “A big mistake people make when they’re cooking at home is to try and do everything last minute,” he says. “Don’t stress too much about doing it, it’s all pretty simple.”
For this shoot, we’ve joined the Buzo crew and their friends at Hird’s sister’s property in the Kangaroo Valley. The winter lunch Garratt and Hird have put together is, Garratt says, simply what they like to eat. “Nothing too fussy, just good strong flavours and respect for produce. It’s a pretty organic menu: simple, but worked enough to make it worthwhile.” Buzo, 3 Jersey Rd, Woollahra, NSW, (02) 9328 1600.
WORDS LISA FEATHERBY PHOTOGRAPHY WILLIAM MEPPEM
This article appeared in the August 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.