Melbourne versus Sydney

We are being told by Melbourne how much better they are at food than Sydney. How they are the only city in Australia to be considerered serious for food. How they are the ones who know coffee, who understand cafe culture, who wear black, who have the best pizza, the best inner city markets and also all three MasterChef judges come from Melbourne.

Sydney has always had to swallow the idea that Melbourne is the greater food city – and typically, it is hard to argue. They nailed pizza, tea, coffee, cheese, pasta, sourdough bread, vegetables, heirloom fruits and long before us here in Sydney.

We owe them more than inspiration, we owe them half our restaurant industry. The food scene in Sydney wouldn’t look the same if some of their best chefs and taste-makers hadn’t fled Melbourne for the bright lights of the big city of Sydney. No Tony Bilson, no Janni Kyritsis, no Damien Pignolet, no Maurice Terzini, no Luke Mangan, no Bill Granger. No me.

The Melbournisation of Sydney has been most evident in the past 10 years. We’ve made our restaurants feel like basements, turned the lights down to Euro-Melburnian dimness, lobbied the government to get small bar licences, and allowed our Italians to cook Tuscan and Ligurian instead of Leichhardtian.

But those days are over. It’s not all one-way any more. We’ve lent our Neil Perry and Guillaume Brahimi to their Crown Casino complex. We’ve given them our version of modern Thai, with Longrain Melbourne. We’ve even sent them our coffee, with Sydney’s Single Origin Coffee Roasters supplying Melbourne’s much-lauded Cumulus and Cutler & Co restaurants.

Now, we’re giving them a shake simply by being Sydney. We’ve got the fine dining, the accolades, the water views, the whole package. We have the best restaurants in Australia. In the much-publicised London-based annual S. Pellegrino World’s Fifty Best Restaurants 2010 awards, there were just two Australian restaurants in the top 50 – Tetsuya’s and Quay. That would be Tetsuya’s and Quay in Sydney. Sydney also scored nine of the highest possible awards (three stars) in the current Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards. Melbourne scored only one.

So, OK, let the final arbiters of home-cooking excellence come from Melbourne. But don’t forget where MasterChef Australia is put together, packaged and promoted: Sydney. Sydney is where things happen.

We love you, Melbourne, but you are our past, not our future. We have Mark Best, Peter Gilmore, Martin Benn, Jonathan Bathelmess, Brent Savage, Adriano Zumbo – a whole new generation of chefs who don’t look to Melbourne for inspiration any more. They look to Sydney, reflecting our own produce, sunshine, identity and values. Sydney, your time starts now.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald





Total votes: 2778.

Poll closed 24 Jul, 2010

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