As a stranger to Australian culture, Jock Zonfrillo foraged for inspiration where too few chefs had looked. He visited scores of Indigenous communities, from the Kimberley to Nauiyu at Daly River in the Northern Territory, to ask questions of elders about harvesting and cooking techniques and foodways and to get a taste of the land. Connecting all has been years in the making. At Orana, Zonfrillo's intimate Adelaide restaurant, a philosophy took form in dishes where lesser-seen native ingredients and more familiar fare found a happy (and very tasty) meeting place. Davidson plum on Spencer Gulf prawns, say, or Port Lincoln tuna belly with smoked gubinge and ruby saltbush berries. While he looks to Indigenous communities for guidance and knowledge, Zonfrillo is also determined to give back. His Orana Foundation is conducting research with the University of Adelaide (thanks to a $1.25 million South Australian government grant) to build a native food database, help cultivate commercial production of ingredients, and create new food industries for Indigenous communities.
Raise a glass to the winners of Gourmet Traveller's 2018 Restaurant Guide Awards, sponsored by Vittoria Coffee, Santa Vittoria and Ilve. What a busy year it's been. While there's lots changing in Australian dining, it only makes us value the basics - impeccable service, inventive menus and carefully curated wine lists - even more. Here are the best of the best.