Five Sundays, five of the city’s best ramen chefs and five entirely new recipes. This is Slurpfest, Rising Sun’s month-long celebration of Sydney’s ramen scene.
The idea is Nick Smith’s of Rising Sun. He was inspired by Ramen Lab in New York and wanted to bring some collaboration to the scene, which is rare. “The distance between the customer and the chef is getting smaller and smaller. People know all about chefs and what they're cooking, and they've got open kitchens where you can see what they're doing. None of that is true in ramen. It's all secretive, it's all guarded,” says Smith. “I want to open the conversation up. I want to meet the other guys in town that are doing good work. I want to learn from them; I'm the imposter. I've only been cooking for a year and a half.”
For five consecutive weeks, Smith will be inviting one ramen chef to the Rising Sun kitchen to bring an entirely new recipe to the table. “I said to each of the guys, 'I want you to develop something a bit different to what your audience gets at your shop’. For all of us, me included, we’ll be getting out of the comfort zone.” Smith and the regular Rising Sun team will be providing snacks, brews, cocktails and wines. “We’ll be doing a list of natural wines. It'll be mostly brighter ones to cut through all the rich collagen,” says Smith.
The first collaboration (on this Sunday but already sold out), brings Gumshara’s renowned tonkotsu chef, Mori Higashida. On the following weeks Smith will work with Keita Abe of Chaco Bar; Cool Mac Cafe’s Junichi Okamatsu; former Ramen Ikkyu owner and chef Harunobu Inukai; and Ramen O-San’s Kazuteru Oh.
The line-up is formidable, but perhaps the most impressive part of the event is the collaboration itself. Although Sydney’s restaurant industry is awash with collaborations, they’re mostly restricted to a particular group of chefs – those in the media spotlight and the ones with all the mainstream awards. Despite their acclaim among ramen fans, chefs such as Higashida, Inukai and Oh are far from that circuit. “I just want to build a new community,” says Smith.
If the event is a success Smith hopes to make it an annual event.
Each sitting is a ticketed event and goes from 6pm to 9.30pm each Sunday night from August 20 to September 24. Tickets are $20.