There have to be few spots as scenic as Otto, on Woolloomooloo’s wharf, to launch your cheffing career. That’s where James Green began his, as an apprentice back in the day. And now, several years and many countries later, he’s returned to the wharf – to head up the kitchen right next door at Manta.

Green has just been appointed executive chef at the seafood diner and will be leading the kitchen with new head chef Matt Smith (ex-Banksii) at his side. Since departing Otto, Green’s traversed the globe. He last was head chef at North Bondi Fish, and also headed up the kitchen at Q Station, while abroad he’s worked the pass at Momofuku Toronto and completed a stagiaire (brief internship) at New York’s WD-50.

Here’s what he has planned for Manta and its sister bar Molo.

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What’s your new job title?

Executive chef. My role is basically to lead a relatively new team, along with our head chef Matt Smith and develop the menu and food style over the next few months and into 2022.

Why did you decide to make the move to Manta?

I saw it as a great opportunity to lead a large and busy team, working with some of the best seafood this country has to offer, and to be creative and continue to develop my style, which I feel fits quite well with the restaurant.

Do you have any fun plans or ideas for your new role?
The relationship with our sister business, Fishermen’s Wharf in Port Stephens, is really exciting for me. Being able to buy direct from the boats and have a real connection with the people catching the produce we’re serving is something that’s fairly rare in the vast majority of seafood restaurants, and it's something I want to do a lot more with.

Will you bring along any dishes or ideas you’re known for?
I’m not generally someone who likes to cling on to signature dishes, I like to evolve each idea as time goes on and develop my food organically over time, my goal at Manta is to continue to evolve with the restaurant and explore the amazing bounty of Australian seafood and produce in general.

Will we see any cool dishes or ideas that might thrill diners?
We’ve been working on a couple of things among the madness of reopening after lockdown; we met with our abalone diver in Port Stephens a few weeks ago, and there’s a few exciting ideas in store for utilising these beautiful NSW black lip abalone in a couple of areas of the menu.