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April 21, 2023

Bermixer blade

Bermixer blade bianca hrovat

Hotel restaurants in Sydney are bidding farewell to sad buffet breakfasts and substandard fare as international hoteliers invest millions of dollars into luxurious restaurants and bars.

Brasserie 1930 is the latest addition: a grand, 120-seat dining room on the ground floor of Capella Sydney, created in partnership with renowned Sydney restaurateurs Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt of The Bentley Group.

“The investment [The Capella Group] made into the hotel is probably larger than we’ve seen in Australia for a very long time,” says Savage, of the $335 million project.

“And that extends to Brasserie 1930. The money they’ve spent on infrastructure for the restaurant has been huge.”

Bermixer blade brasserie 1930 executive chef brent savage says his greatest challenge will be keeping up with numbers at the already popular hotel restaurant.
Brasserie 1930 executive chef Brent Savage says his greatest challenge will be keeping up with numbers at the already popular hotel restaurant.Ben Symons

Less than a month after the restaurant opened in the heritage-listed former Department of Education building, Brasserie 1930 was this week awarded two chef hats by The Sydney Morning Herald chief restaurant critic Terry Durack.

Savage says Capella Sydney is one of a growing number of hotels to recognise the importance of recruiting local hospitality talent to create a competitive food and beverage offering.

Bermixer blade the grand dining room at brasserie 1930.
The grand dining room at Brasserie 1930.James Brickwood

“Hotels now realise they need the expertise of seasoned restaurateurs if they want to create great restaurants,” he says, pointing to the appointments of former Biota head chef James Viles as executive chef at the Park Hyatt and former ACME chef Mitch Orr to lead the kitchen at Ace Hotel restaurant Kiln.

Bermixer blade chef mitch orr at kiln restaurant in the super cool ace hotel.
Chef Mitch Orr at Kiln restaurant in the super cool Ace Hotel.Nikki To

The upcoming Morris Bar at the recently renovated Hotel Morris has also brought on chef Rosa Scatigna, who formerly worked as senior sous chef at two-hatted restaurant Shell House Dining Room and Terrace.

The opening of Kiln in October prompted a shift in public perception of hotel restaurants as Orr resisted convention with a wood-fired menu of smoked butter and anchovy Jatz, koshihikari rice and calamari salmoriglio.

Within six weeks of opening, Kiln was named New Restaurant of the Year in The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2023.

Bermixer blade dot lee and jarrod walsh are set to open longshore in may.
Dot Lee and Jarrod Walsh are set to open Longshore in May.Supplied

Jarrod Walsh and Dot Lee, who previously operated hatted Newtown restaurant Hartsyard, partnered with Chippendale hotel The Old Clare last year. Their first hotel restaurant, Longshore, is expected to open on May 4.

Lee says the couple were attracted to the security, support and comparative ease of working with international hotel group Unlisted Collection, particularly after two tumultuous years of COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures.

“I was always very sceptical of hotel restaurants, they’ve had such a bad reputation,” says Walsh.

“But small business has become so challenging … big hospitality groups can throw really high wages around [to attract staff] and independent operators just can’t compete.”

Bermixer blade the $2 million renovation of arches at swissotel.
The $2 million renovation of Arches at Swissotel.Supplied

John Giovanni Pugliano was also looking for stability when he took on the role as executive chef at Swissôtel Sydney in October 2021. Pugliano, who has worked in the hotel sector for more than 18 years, says food and beverage has become a greater priority for hotels since the onset of COVID-19.

“In the past, hotels focused more on tourists and the corporate market. You’d just have to satisfy them for two or three days and then you wouldn’t see them for another few years,” he explains.

“Now, that market share has changed. You have to appeal to local Sydneysiders as well because if they like something they’re going to keep coming back.”

Bermixer blade compressed watermelon, persian feta, mountain pepper, lemon balm, radish at me-gal.
Compressed watermelon, Persian feta, mountain pepper, lemon balm, radish at Me-Gal.Steven Woodburn

Taronga Wildlife Retreat opened its in-house restaurant Me-Gal to the public on March 30, for the first time since opening the hotel restaurant in 2019.

“The dining room presented a huge opportunity, it was just sitting empty at lunchtime,” says Jo Bennett, marketing director at parent hospitality company Trippas White Group.

“[We’ve since] seen a huge uplift in bookings … about 50 per cent of which are from Mosman and north shore locals.”

On March 28, Swissôtel unveiled the $2 million overhaul of its lobby bar. It’s a grand space, with tall marble columns and a luxurious menu of caviar and lobster cocktails. Pugliano says change was necessary.

“Swissôtel lost its identity during COVID. The menus weren’t updated and the banqueting was stuck in the past,” he says.

“It was time for reinvention.”

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