Oz cuisine comes of age

Those planning to go down under in the next while will be glad to hear that Australian cuisine is moving beyond the bronto-burger and sagebrush stage, just in time for the 2000 Olympics. The country’s cuisine has progressed from casual outdoors to urban sophistication, after an influx of innovative chefs who have taken advantage of Australia’s incredible array of fresh produce to produce yet another “fusion” cuisine. The cultural fusion of cuisine is strongly influenced by Asian countries such as China, Thailand, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan.

New restaurants are springing up throughout Australia. Luke Mangan, heralded as one of Sydney’s best chefs, takes to the kitchen at Salt, a trendy restaurant in the new Kirketon Hotel. Neil Perry, an inventive Sydney-based chef, has opened another chic restaurant (Bistro Mars) that overlooks Rushcutters Bay, home of Sydney’s sailing fraternity and the site of the 2000 Olympic Games sailing competition. Perry’s obsession — using only the freshest and highest quality produce — is coupled with his creativity, flair and slick service at this newest eatery. Tony Bilson’s Ampersand in hip Cockle Bay Wharf is also getting rave views. Bilson’s skill is in combining atmosphere, cuisine and service to match the stunning view over Darling Harbour.

According to American culinary author Patricia Wells, Australia is “in the midst of creating its own style of cooking, one that reflects its current ethnic population, the season, the oceans, the hills and the lifestyles.”

Definitely something to look forward to on a trip way south, especially when all you might have been expecting was another shrimp on the barbie.