Master chefs on tour

Rachael Oakes-Ash surveys leading Australian chefs on where they'd most like to go for dinner tonight.


Attica, Melbourne

RESTAURANT Minetta Tavern, New York City, is right up there for me. I just get a comfortable feeling when I go there. Terrific high-quality ingredients cooked with skill and passion.

WINE REGION Martinborough, New Zealand. I'm NZ-born and love a wine region where you can visit a vineyard and go for a surf in the same day.

ETHNIC DISH I'm the self-proclaimed "fried rice connoisseur" and will travel anywhere for great renditions.


Ormeggio at the Spit, Sydney

RESTAURANT Piazza Duomo in Alba, Piedmont, in the north of Italy, is an incredible experience. The modern techniques chef Enrico Crippa applies to traditional flavours, the creativity of flavour pairing, the light touch and natural approach, the fact they have their own farm for specialist produce, the excellent service, the pink dining room, the constant surprises ... My wife describes it as an "Alice in Wonderland" dining experience. It is fantastic.


WINE REGION Lombardy is an incredible region due to the variety of terrain and climates, from the mountainous alps to the Mediterranean-like climates of the great lakes like Garda. The wines produced all over this region vary just as much: there are top red wines from the Valtellina region such as the amarone-style sfurzat; delicious food-friendly whites like the lugana from the Garda Bresciano region along Lake Garda, and, of course, the world famous franciacorta - Italy's answer to French champagne and in my opinion, even better!

ETHNIC DISH Peking duck is especially interesting due to its history, technique, the importance of its origin of produce and of course, the flavour.


Quay, Sydney

RESTAURANT Mugaritz in Spain for Andoni Luis Aduriz's imaginative vision of cuisine that is very pure in essence and originality.

WINE REGION Burgundy, because I am a big pinot fan and admire a region that can make great white wine as well.

ETHNIC DISH Dim sum for the sheer variety.


Movida, Melbourne and Sydney

RESTAURANT Aponiente is a small restaurant in the southern Spanish coastal town of El Puerto de Santa Maria. It is run by a young chef, Angel Leon, the recent Spanish chef of the year. Aponiente focuses on unbelievable seafood in a way I have never tasted before. He focuses on ingredients like plankton, fishy small goods and local fish and the food is matched with sherry from the region.

WINE REGION Sherry is my favourite wine and the area around Jerez de la Frontera, including Puerto Santa Maria is the home of sherry.

ETHNIC DISH Vietnamese pho, because nothing rejuvenates the spirit as much as a good bowl of this soup.


Chef, author, food producer

RESTAURANT Michel Bras - the most idyllic location [in Laguiole, Aveyron, France] and the food reflects its terroir and it is perfect in every aspect. A restaurant that sets the bench mark and is postmodern before its time. Go for a long lunch, stay overnight and wake to views of the wild Aubrac region, breakfast is equally divine.

WINE REGION The Mosel and Rhine rivers in Germany, home to sensational riesling wines. Everywhere you look there are extraordinary vistas, fairytale castles and delicious wines to taste. Staying in a house with river front views is a bonus.

ETHNIC DISH Peking duck. I love the ritual of how it is presented in three parts; it's not something you whip up on a daily basis, it's a celebration, the epitome of balance and harmony in flavour and texture.


The Press Club and the Hellenic Republic, Melbourne

RESTAURANT Kiki's in Agios Sostis, Mykonos. It's unassuming, [there's] no gas, no electricity and no one knows about it. You can't find them, it's only by word of mouth. They cook over wood, the flavours are delicious.

WINE REGION Tuscany, it's the whole package. Climate, the varietals are amazing, the regional food. It's a great place to enjoy the wine.

ETHNIC DISH Avgolemono, it's a Greek dish, simple egg and lemon soup.


Chef and author

RESTAURANT Attica in Melbourne is truly sensational. Clever, thought-provoking and delicious with comfortable chairs and a level of noise that permits great conversation and aids digestion.

WINE REGION A tie between the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, for stunning pinot noir and memorable chardonnay as I cannot get to Burgundy that often.

ETHNIC DISH Cantonese Peking duck, for its mix of crisp skin, luscious flesh, delicate pancakes and brilliant combination of spring onion and hoisin sauce.


Three Blue Ducks Sydney

RESTAURANT I'd have to say Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain. A restaurant located in a stunning part of the world with the complete package. Amazing produce, kitchen garden and a crazy genius Andoni Luis Aduriz running the show. I was lucky enough to eat there three years ago and they blew me away with not only the food but also the warmth and hospitality from the whole team.

WINE REGION I'd have to say the Jura, which is between Burgundy and Switzerland. Despite the fact I have never been there, I feel like I know the place due to my mate and co-chef at The Three Blue Ducks, Shannon Debreceny. Shannon got me on to this place, I can never remember half the names of them, to be honest. But the wines I have tasted from Jura are refreshingly interesting - some slightly unusual - but rarely do they disappoint.

ETHNIC DISH This would have to be ramen, after watching the life-changing classic food movie Tampopo.


My Kitchen Rules, Seven Network

RESTAURANT The Suveran in Bondi Junction, Sydney. I love "the Suv" because the food is nutrient-dense, delicious, organic, and sugar, wheat, gluten, grain, soy and dairy free. You can eat in and enjoy the relaxed vibe or get your food to go if you're on the run and it's all lovingly made by energetic people who are passionate about optimum health and wellness and the environment too.

WINE REGION South Australia is definitely my pick: the picturesque Adelaide Hills, the beautiful Barossa Valley and Coonawarra. The winemakers in these areas are all consistently producing outstanding wines. Jacob's Creek have constructed some of the best drops of red I've experienced; their signature rich berry, liquorice, chocolate, full-bodied Barossa flavours are rather hard to forget.

ETHNIC DISH A traditional Korean fermented condiment called kimchi. It's made with vegetables and spices and I love it for its palatable taste, versatility and also its health benefits. Kimchi is an appetising accompaniment to so many different dishes because it has a distinct ability to truly enhance flavours, and, when it's prepared correctly, it's an excellent natural probiotic too.


Better Homes & Gardens, Seven Network

RESTAURANT Trattoria Toscana. Alain Ducasse's foray into Italian cookery on the Tuscan coast is the perfect example of everything great food can be. With his tireless attention to detail and a genuinely Italian respect for the primacy of ingredients over pretense, this is the world's very best example of what restaurants should strive to be. I love it as a chef, I adore it as a diner, and quite frankly I would give up my job just to spend a couple of years being part of its team. If you're going to eat in just one restaurant in Europe, this should be it.

WINE REGION I reckon Tasmania is pretty hard to beat. If you love pinot noir (as I do) and aromatic white varietals, you'll find so much to fall in love with on the Apple Isle. From the Tamar to the Coal River Valley and loads in between, everyone who loves wine should spend some time in Tas.

ETHNIC DISH My Hungarian Jewish roots are strong and they have always influenced my desire to cook. If you want to understand just how much central European food has to offer, try a perfect Hungarian kugelhopf - yeasty, buttery, chocolatey.


Pilu at Freshwater, Sydney

RESTAURANT Dal Pescatore, Provincia Di Mantova, Italy. This was the first three-star Michelin restaurant I ever ate at, more than 10 years ago. I had heard and read so much about it and it exceeded my expectations. The family who run the restaurant were warm, genuine and hospitable. The food was simple, using locally grown and sourced ingredients. The service was like nothing I've ever experienced. To this day it remains my favourite.

WINE REGION Barossa - it reminds me of the wine regions in Italy and there are some great producers including a few who specialise in Italian varietals such as coriole. Also, each year in January I ride in the Tour Down Under which goes through the vineyards.

ETHNIC DISH The falafel filled pita from L'as du Fallafel in the Marais, Paris. So tasty and the fact you need to queue makes it taste all the better.