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The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry: Lee Tran Lam quizzes chefs, critics, bar staff and other people from the world of food about their career highlights and lowlights, war stories and favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney.

Mar 4, 2019

Daniel Puskas started his career slicing tomatoes, but eventually ended up in the kitchen of Alinea, the acclaimed Chicago restaurant known for turning mozzarella curds into balloons filled with tomato foam. His experience there was part of his Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year prize.

It's one of many honours he's earned throughout his career: he was also named the Citi Chef of the Year in 2018’s Good Food Guide, and Sixpenny is one of only three Sydney restaurants that's achieved three chef hats in the latest guide. You currently have to book two months ahead to get a table at Sixpenny. And it's worth the wait (Bar Ume's Kerby Craig cried when he last ate there).

Dan worked at some all-star kitchens early in his career (at Tetsuya's, alongside Shannon Debreceny, Darren Robertson and Phil Wood; at Marque with Mark Best, Pasi Petanen, Karl Firla and Daniel Pepperell), before becoming head chef of Oscillate Wildly at age 23: he'd arrive to work on his skateboard and play Mario Kart with chef Mike Eggert before service started.

At Oscillate Wildly, he met James Parry (another Young Chef of the Year winner), and they took Bob, their sourdough starter from the restaurant, and opened Sixpenny together in 2012. The menu is truly inspired, even down to its bread (including the ‘recycled’ loaf transformed with spent coffee grounds and golden syrup), and features fascinating ingredients (from emu eggs to anise hyssop). Sixpenny’s current sommelier Bridget Raffal is aiming for gender equality on her wine list.

Dan is really open about the restaurant’s ups and downs (from the time he sat on a champagne glass, because he was shocked Sixpenny hadn’t scored two hats – to its recent ascension to three-hat status). He also shares some very funny stories from the many acclaimed restaurants he's worked in – he was truly great to talk to.