Applejack Hospitality has been a relatively under-the-radar player on Sydney’s hospitality scene, but it’s behind some well-loved venues, including handsome city restaurant Bopp & Tone, moody subterranean Kirribilli bar and diner The Botanist and old-school boozer Forrester's in Surry Hills. Now, it’s declaring its ambitions with the appointment of an ex-Merivale head chef – and former executive chef at Brisbane’s landmark dining precinct Howard Smith Wharves – as its head of culinary.

Patrick Friesen (ex-Papi Chulo and Queen Chow Manly) is set to oversee the food menus at the group’s roster of diners, which also includes Cali-Mex eatery Socal in Neutral Bay, view-heavy venue The Butler and CBD cafes June’s Shoppe and Hester’s. He’s also been enlisted to lead Applejack’s next venue – a 300-seat eatery in North Sydney slated to open in spring.

Friesen had recently consulted on a new menu at Forrester’s and masterminded its sellout The Big Yorkie – a roast dinner in a plate-sized Yorkshire pudding. Now the move is permanent; as well as working across all of Applejack’s menus, he’ll be part of a hiring and growth regime to expand the business, plus take responsibility for building relationships with producers and suppliers.

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Here’s what Friesen has in store now he’s gone permanent at Applejack.

What’s your new job title?

My new job title is head of culinary for Applejack Hospitality. My role is to oversee the food direction for the group, as well as mentoring and developing our team of chefs.

Why did you decide to stay on with Applejack after consulting on the Forrester’s menu?

I chose to stay on with Applejack as I thought I could have a positive impact on the direction of the business, as well as [having] a strong sense of shared values with the owners.

Do you have any fun plans or ideas for your new role?
I’m really excited about connecting our chefs with great growers, producers and fishermen. [I have] a strong emphasis on premium local produce and a shared commitment to sustainability. We will be hosting a dinner at The Botanist Kirribilli in May celebrating wild foods such as wild-shot sambar deer, pine mushrooms and sea urchin.

Will you bring along any dishes or ideas you’re known for?
I think I’m known for woodfire barbeque and grilling and there is an emphasis on this in most of Applejack’s venues. Also in my career I’ve always stuck to serving the best local Aussie produce. For instance, the Wagyu steak at Forrester’s is Westholme Wagyu rump cap, the meat in our burgers and Big Yorkie is dry-aged, grass-fed beef from Cowra, and butchered by Whole Beast Butchery. The bread we are now serving at The Botanist is organic sourdough from the legends at Staple in Seaforth.

Will we see any other cool dishes, across any of the venues, that might thrill diners?
I definitely hope so! As time goes on and I get a better understanding of our guests and teams across our venues there will be lots of new things on the horizon. Stay tuned.