New York’s David Chang opened Momofuku Seiobo in Sydney. Rene Redzepi launched a Noma pop-up in Barangaroo. And Heston Blumenthal brought The Fat Duck to Melbourne. Now leaders in Australian hospitality are returning the favour by taking their concepts to new overseas audiences.
But the reality of opening in a new country often involves a new language, a foreign culture, fresh competition and unfamiliar ingredients and producers.
From Mrs Sippy opening a spin-off in Bali, to Fratelli Paradiso launching in Tokyo, we investigate how Australians overseas make it work.
FROM SYDNEY TO TOKYO
Sam Christie and Jonathan Barthelmess are taking their Greek restaurant from Macleay Street to Tokyo Plaza in Ginza. “Tokyo is one of the greatest food cities in the world and we wanted to be a part of it,” says Barthelmess. Apollo Tokyo opened in April and offers the same simple, Mediterranean dishes as it does in Sydney, but with a focus on Japan’s seasonal produce. The key ingredients of olive oil, fresh seafood, vegetables cooked over a wood-fire will remain. “The main challenge was getting our hands on good dairy and pita,” says Barthelmess. “We had a lot of support from the Australian and Greek embassy to get what we needed.”
This Potts Point institution is opening a similar restaurant on a tree-lined Omotesando avenue in Tokyo next April. Marco Ambrosino, a partner in the venture alongside Melburnians Enrico and Giovanni Paradiso, says he feels connected to Japan because he lived there when he was younger. “Italian food is similar to Japanese food; very simple ingredients with lots of great seafood, and they don’t overdo it.” Fratelli’s previous head chef, Toshi Nakayasu, will lead the charge at the new 90-seater.
FROM SYDNEY TO BALI
Icebergs Dining Room & Bar
For years there have been rumours Maurice Terzini plans to open something in Bali. Now, finally, there is progress. Da Maria in Bali will open in Canggu early next year, inspired by the Amalfi Coast and the courtyard restaurants of Capri. The design will be led by long-time friends and collaborators, architects Carl Pickering and Claudio Lazzarini (of Lazzarini Pickering), who have done everything from Neild Avenue to private villas in Tuscany. This time around they’re creating a simple yet modern interpretation of the classic courtyard restaurant. Expect fresh seafood and Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizza made with 48-hour naturally risen dough and typical Terzini cocktails and natural wines.
There was no doubt in the minds of Mrs Sippy owners Andrew Stanway and Ben May that opening a second venue in Bali would work. But they wanted to wait until they had the perfect idea. Modest build costs, coupled with a huge international market, has spurred Australians to open up in Seminyak. Stanway will open Mrs Sippy Pool Club across the road from Frank Camorra’s Spanish restaurant and hotel, MoVida, in December. “We are opening the biggest pool in Seminyak, which is more like a lagoon surrounded by beautiful trees. It’s an oasis,” says Stanway. There will be a Jimabran Bay-style grill, three bars, a Sippy bazaar and a spa. “Learning the lay of the land and basically submerging yourself into a new culture has been incredible.”
FROM SYDNEY TO PARIS
N2 Gelato opened its first international store on Rue Des Lombards in June this year. “It was challenging getting our doors open, mostly due to the language barrier and learning the way things operate in Paris,” says owner Ann Gee Yeoh. “The quality of milk and cream in France is amazing, but we had a very hard time picking the best.” The Parisians prefer the classics. “We expected the French market to be conservative, but we did not know the extent of it until we opened our doors and saw the flavours that rose in popularity.” So far Parisians can’t get enough of the Bonjour Paris (vanilla gelato with feuilletine layers, whipped vanilla cream and a shot of caramel sauce).
FROM MELBOURNE TO PARIS
Husband-and-wife team Diana and William Keser behind Hardware Societe in Melbourne have opened an outpost in Paris. After a five-week build the cafe opened in April this year, just 100 metres from Sacre Coeur on Rue Lamarck. “The French press has been simply incredible supporting us,” says Di Keser. “It’s been a very interesting process for us, speaking little French and basically negotiating a lease from scratch, designing it and fitting it out in record time. It’s what good books are made of,” she says. “But you know what? We don’t care, we get to wake up in Paris every day.” The couple sponsored their two senior chefs, Jesse and Carla Eyles for the project with the brief to teach the Parisians how to brunch. “Here, it’s only just finding its feet.” The crown jewel is the rooftop view.
FROM MELBOURNE TO HONG KONG
Hammer & Tong
Fitzroy’s famous soft-shell-crab burger is crossing borders. “We’re looking at opening in Sheung Wan,” says executive chef Simon Ward. It’s the central district in Hong Kong and, according to him, “It’s full of expats and food-crazy locals.” A clear advantage is having Hong Kong natives on staff; sous chef William Lim and future-manager Andy Cheng. Ward also plans to start an exchange program, which will swap one barista from Melbourne’s Hammer & Tong with a barista from the new Hong Kong location.
FROM MELBOURNE TO PORTLAND
In November the owner of this Melbourne cafe, Nolan Hirte, will open a similar cafe in Portland, Oregon. “The cafe model has been flogged pretty hard here,” he says. “I honestly reckon it’s harder and more risky for me to do another three cafes here in Melbourne than it is to go to the other side of the planet to do something I know really well, in an area where there’s nothing.” So, why Portland? Hirte believes it’s the epicentre of authentic producers and trends in America. “New York, LA – that’s going straight to the top. That’s not me,” he says.
FROM MELBOURNE TO SAN SEBASTIAN
Gerald Diffey of Carlton North’s beloved Gerald’s Bar has made the move to San Sebastian. “It’s the only place I’ve ever felt that drawn to. I love the town; I love the food; I love the people; I love their attitude on life and I want to be part of that,” says Diffey. He has opened a little restaurant in Iparragirre Kalea and the new concept is like “the early days of Gerald’s,” using whatever good stuff is available from the markets. Its wine list pushes locals outside their comfort zone with Australian varietals. The design is kitsch and eclectic.