A famous British chef has launched an extraordinary attack on Sydney’s ‘smug’ food scene, claiming restaurants in the city are 20 years behind those in London.
Alastair Little, a legend of UK culinary known as the ‘godfather of British cooking’, is working in Sydney after moving there with his Australian wife Sharon last year.
But having run the kitchen in two of the city’s restaurants since his relocation, he was scathing in his assessment of the food on show.
UK chef Alastair Little is unimpressed by Sydney’s food scene since moving here two years ago
Mr Little said much of Sydney’s culinary inspiration came from London anyway, pointing to social media pictures of British ingredients such as grouse, Cornish mackerel and turbot.
‘Surely the wonderful array of produce available here in Sydney will more than make up for all these much-missed delicacies? ‘I’m afraid not; not even close,’ he wrote for British gourmet food and drink magazine Noble Rot.
The expat chef, who made his name at his legendary restaurant in Soho’s Frith Street, went on to bemoan the Australian diet when compared to what he could get back home.
‘Australians seem to live on beef, oysters, Thai prawn takeaways and Brussel sprouts, all accompanied by enormous piles of splendid-looking but sadly bland salads,’ he wrote.
‘There is no game, as I understand it; no flatfish except flaccid flounders and farmed turbot; no bacon worth eating; no unsmoked gammon; virtually no offal; and easily available fruit and vegetables are at best British supermarket standard.
Mr Little said ‘don’t even get him started’ when it came to Australian salamis, adding there was an ‘overweening and completely unjustified sense of smugness’ in regards to the quality of Australia’s fresh produce.
The legendary chef claims Australian fresh produce is ‘not even close’ to UK standards
Mr Little – who is currently head chef at the Cento 22 Italian restaurant in Castlecrag – concedes that the standard of many basic foods – including milk, cheese, eggs, meat and shellfish – are at least as good if not better than in his native UK.
However, that doesn’t stop him ‘slagging off’ his ‘adopted country’s food’.
Mr Little said his withering assessment of Australian cuisine is a rebuttal of recent ‘pom bashing’ in the local media – including a claim that British cooking was ‘barely out of the dark ages’.
‘This is complete bollocks. London is 20 years ahead of Sydney in the maturity of its food; everything here, with the exception of Aboriginal ”tucker”, originated somewhere else and a great deal of this innovation has come from the British capital,’ he wrote.
‘Here and now in Sydney the availability of truly top-quality fruit, vegetables, poultry and seafood isn’t even comparable to what I had in my Frith Street restaurant in 1985.’
Mr Little (pictured younger with wife Sharon) is currently head chef at the Cento 22 Italian restaurant in Castlecrag
Brad Sloane, executive chef of renowned Sydney establishments Verandah Bar and Greenwood Hotel, was taken back by Mr Little’s comments about the Harbour City’s dining scene – and urged the British chef to ‘get out more’.
Sloane argued the same could be said about some parts of the UK.
‘I worked in London 10-15 years ago where the food scene was very good but I’ve got to say, Sydney has caught up a hell of a lot since then,’ Mr Sloane told Daily Mail Australia.
‘He’s got remember the style of Australian cuisine is a lot different than typical English food. It’s more Asian-inspired than the UK, because of where we are.
Renowned Sydney chef Brad Sloane (right) urged Alastair Little to get out more
‘You can find the best fresh produce in the world right here in Australia, just as you could over in the UK.’
Mr Sloane has been a chef for more than two decades and a one time Australian Hotel Association NSW chef of the year.
He conceded some fresh produce is better in the UK than Australia.
‘We grow an amazing quality of Asians greens because of our sub-tropical climate, where as European fruits and vegetables which grow better in colder climates struggle quite a bit,’ he said.
‘But our produce is very good, just as it is in England. Our produce just lends itself to be more Asian-inspired.’
‘You can find the best fresh produce in the world right here in Australia, just as you could over in the UK,’ Sydney executive chef Brad Sloane (left) told Daily Mail Australia
Mr Sloane suggested Mr Little may not be visiting the right places when slamming Sydney’s dining scene and says Australian foodies have a right to be ‘smug’.
‘You could say the same thing about England, where every second shop has curries or fish and chips,’ Mr Sloane told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Why wouldn’t we be smug when we live in the best country in the world.
‘My message to Alastair would be to enjoy the beach and food, and to get out a bit more.’
Cambridge University-educated Mr Little moved from Notting Hill in west London to Sydney at the start of 2018.
His pop up restaurant, Little Bistro, in the city’s Merivale Hotel received a score 15/20 from the reviewer Terry Durack on the Good Food website in May last year.