You’d expect even the most experienced chef to find catering Wednesday’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony nerve-wracking, but Neil Perry is surprisingly calm.
“I’m pretty relaxed, really,” says the veteran restaurateur and chief brand and culinary officer of the recently rebranded Rockpool Dining Group. “My view is it’s my job to showcase great Australian ingredients to people from all over the world, so that’s what we’re doing. It’s about the produce, not about ego.”
Perry might be keeping things simple, but those at the awards can still expect wow-factor.
“Guests will arrive and do the whole red-carpet thing, and then when they get in there’ll be this amazing produce station,” says Perry. “Whole tunas; sides of Wagyu; whole ribs; marron and abalone; lobster and amazing piles of oysters on ice. All these incredible Australian ingredients.”
The station will then turn into a kitchen; chefs will begin preparing the ingredients, serving them raw and barbequed. The idea, says Perry, is for visitors to taste the quality of Australia’s produce, in particular our seafood and native ingredients such as kangaroo, finger limes, saltbush and Warrigal greens. Considering the food at Rockpool is very ingredient-driven, this event is just another (very big, very high-profile) service for Perry.
“I’m just really excited to have the guys here in Melbourne,” says Perry. “I’m very proud to be Australian, I’m very proud of Melbourne and I think we’ve got such an awesome country to show off. It’s going to be fun.”
The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards will be streaming live in Federation Square from 8.30pm.
This article was updated on April 6, 2017.