British chef blasts Sydney, Australia for its ‘smug’ food scene

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Australians have an “overweening and completely unjustified sense of smugness” when it comes to our local cuisine, a top British chef claims.

In a piece for food magazine Nobel Rot, chef Alastair Little has absolutely roasted Australia’s food, singling out Sydney as 20 years behind the London restaurant scene.

Mr Little criticised Australia for having no game meat, virtually no wild mushrooms, no flat fish apart from “flaccid flounders and farmed turbot”.

Our bacon was “not worth eating”, as was our salami, and fruit and vegetables were “at best British supermarket standard”, he continued.

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Chef Alastair Little is no fan of Australian cuisine. Picture: Supplied
media_cameraChef Alastair Little is no fan of Australian cuisine. Picture: Supplied

“Australians seem to live on beef, oysters, prawns, Thai takeaway and brussels sprouts, all accompanied by enormous piles of splendid looking but sadly bland salads,” Mr Little wrote.

“ … Yet, there is an overweening and completely unjustified sense of smugness about the quality of their produce and what they do with it.”

He also claimed that despite Australia being “the most urbanised country on the planet”, there is a “greater disparity of food quality between Town and Country than Britain”.

Mr Little admitted his opinion about Australian food was probably “unbalanced”, as “the basics” were “of an equal, or more often better quality than their equivalents in the UK”.

But he claimed he was driven to speak out after a series of “Pom bashing” articles that placed countries like Australia and the US ahead of his home country when it came to the best cuisine.

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Mr Little now lives in Australia.
media_cameraMr Little now lives in Australia.
He said Australian produce was nothing to write home about. Picture: David Geraghty/ The Australian.
media_cameraHe said Australian produce was nothing to write home about. Picture: David Geraghty/ The Australian.

“Then there were the cuisines barely out of the dark ages, the UK being the prime example given,” Mr Little wrote.

A self-taught chef who helped revolutionise London’s restaurant scene during the 1980s, Mr Little moved to Australia permanently in 2018.

Last year he oversaw pop-up restaurant Little Bistro in Sydney’s Hotel CBD.

Sydney chef Brad Sloane, who worked in London’s restaurants a decade ago, told Daily Mail Australia Mr Little needed to “get out more”.

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Mr Little argued Australians were overly smug about our local food. Picture: David Geraghty/The Australian.
media_cameraMr Little argued Australians were overly smug about our local food. Picture: David Geraghty/The Australian.

“You could say the same thing about England, where every second shop has curries or fish and chips,” he said.

Mr Sloane said Mr Little also needed to realise that Australian fresh produce was more “Asian-inspired”.

“We grow an amazing quality of Asians greens because of our subtropical climate, whereas European fruits and vegetables, which grow better in colder climates, struggle quite a bit,” said Mr Sloane, an executive chef at Sydney’s Veranda Bar and Greenwood Hotel.

Originally published as British chef slams ‘smug’ Aussie food

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