I’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for the Omnivore Sydney chef cast. It’s nothing to do with dazzling good looks, or turn it on for the camera charisma. It’s about their low-key humility and humble charm.
The Omnivore world tour is billed as “100% jeune cuisine” – or young cuisine. Indeed, many of the Omnivore chefs are aged 30, or thereabouts. At Friday’s masterclass series, Luke Powell said he had been cooking for 15 years, since he left school aged 15. They’re the rising stars of the culinary world and they’re light years away from what the generation before them - their mentors and the world’s master chefs – have achieved.
They’re still in the starting blocks: pottering around in their first restaurant, like James Henry of Bones restaurant in Paris, or about to open one, like Powell who spilled the beans to the Omnivore masterclass audience on Friday that he will be opening his first restaurant in Chippendale, next door to Ester where he currently works, maybe by the end of the year. Then there is Pasi Petanen who opened a pop-up venue, Cafe Paci in Sydney, because it gives him a 12-month lease to find his feet in the daunting restaurant world.
It’s a breath of fresh air from the ‘lights, camera, action’ egos and impeccable TV personas of the generation of chefs they trained under – who know how to hold a television audience and engage a crowd with a winning smile.
These rising stars are far more down to earth. In Friday’s masterclass Petanen demonstrated the rye pancakes his mother used to make in Finland, albeit it with added pigs blood, Powell impressed the audience with his hand-made charcuterie skills, and James Henry, when asked by MC Simon Thomsen if he embodied this generation of young chefs who trained under great chefs who are branching out and doing something much more approachable, was so humble in his reply that the audience could barely hear.
These young chefs demonstrate a more approachable cooking style. They run restaurants that are far more affordable. They’re the ones to watch.
The Food Sage attended masterclasses as a guest of Omnivore.