Sepia has been named number 84 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants rundown, a prestigious annual award decided upon by international critics and industry figures.
The official title of the award is of course a misnomer, and Sepia owner Vicki Wild considers numbers 51–100 on the list as serious “ones to watch”.
The sophisticated Sussex Street eatery by chef Martin Benn is the highest new Australian entrant on the list, with Brae in Victoria appearing at number 87.
It’s been a good 12 months for Sepia; it has scooped numerous top prizes from local bodies including the Financial Review Australia’s Top Restaurants, Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide and Australian Gourmet Traveller.
But Wild is happy to be recognised on an international platform. “It’s really brilliant,” she says. “Being so far away in Australia – unless you’re in the industry or restaurant business – it’s difficult to imagine just how hard it is to get recognised. It’s the tyranny of distance.
“Martin and I travel a lot, and we really believe that what we – and so many other restaurants in Australia – are doing is unique. We’re creating our own style of cuisine. It’s brilliant to see it being recognised.”
Sepia is famous for its use of seasonal ingredients and its appropriation of Japanese cuisine. “There’s a lot of freedom to do what we do here [in Australia], and with Asia on our doorstep, we embrace Asian cuisine with clarity and purpose,” says Wild. “Gone are the days of fusions; what we do is our own modernist approach to working with the Asian cuisines.”
While Sepia is already a long-running and successful business, Wild sees the award as an opportunity to promote Australia.
“We’ve had a really good year in terms of being awarded and recognised,” Wild continues. “We are really proud of that and it does make us want to put Australia on the map. It feels like a responsibility and that can only be a good thing.
We need to keep the industry moving forwards. We evolve constantly, but just getting this recognition now gives us the confidence and desire to keep pushing boundaries.”