The Australian chef takes us to his top hometown spots.
The Press Club —This Greek restaurant is located in the old Herald and Weekly Times newspaper building, which is where it got its name. It’s one of the Top 10 restaurants in the country, and it serves tasting menus, so the options change all the time. My advice? Be comfortable in their hands.
Geelong Cats Football Club —This is one of my happy places. We play a sport called Australian Rules Football (AFL); the entire country is crazy about it. I take my kids, but I also go with my mates, drink a couple of beers and eat an Aussie pie. My wife loves it; she seems to think that the players are quite handsome.
Royal Botanic Gardens. Photo: Simona Sergi
Royal Botanic Gardens —These beautiful gardens in the middle of the city are the perfect place to take a picnic basket or sit down with a friend and just chat for an hour. Around the outside, there’s what we call the Tan–Track, which is about four kilometres long. You can go for a run or a walk around it, and at certain points you come out by the Yarra River. There’s a great restaurant there as well called Jardin Tan, where you can end your walk.
South Melbourne Market —This market is full of amazing food. There’s a stand that does what we call dim sims: Asian dumplings that are just to die for. If you walk up to anyone at the market and ask, “Where’s the Dim Sims stand?” they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about.
St. Ali Coffee Roasters —We take real pride in the coffee in Australia. Whenever I travel with people from somewhere else, they’re like, “Every bloody cup of coffee I had was delicious!” There’s a café called St. Ali right near the South Melbourne Market. They’re roasters as well as coffee producers, and I like their coffee so much that I import it to America and serve it at one of my restaurants, Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant, in Los Angeles.
The Geelong Boat House —The fish ’n’ chips in Australia are unbelievable. The Geelong Boat House is on the beach and close to my mum’s place (and a great stop before a Geelong Cats game). There’s nothing fancy about it: Get your order and go sit in the sand to eat it.