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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.

Jan 19, 2018

At age 11, Jock Zonfrillo started working in restaurants - initially, as a dishwasher.

"I very quickly surmised that I was on the wrong side of the flying frying pan."
Only a few weeks in, he became a chef, an experience that would take him from Scotland to the rest of the world: from cooking for Prince Charles in Paris (assisting Marco Pierre White, who attempted to enter France by sticky-taping his photo on top of someone else's passport – true story) to Australia, where a four-hour life-changing conversation with an Aboriginal busker in Sydney opened him to the world of indigenous food and led him to opening Orana in Adelaide. It's currently rated as the best restaurant in Australia, according to Gourmet Traveller's 2018 national food guide.

His work for the Orana Foundation - which seeks to showcase, document and make knowledge about native food accessible, while also ensuring Aboriginal communities directly benefit from the promotion of these ingredients - led to him winning the Food For Good award for the 2018 Good Food Guide. "It’s 60,000 years of knowledge that nobody's really paid attention to," he says. Learning about how Aboriginal people "had a relationship and understanding of the land, 50,000 years before the pyramids" has been pivotal to his work with Orana. (Discovering how Aboriginal people cook mangrove seeds, for instance, is just one example of the innovative nature of indigenous food.)
Plus, we cover Jock's incredible start working with Marco Pierre White (and how he secretly slept on the restaurant's change room floor just to get by), his favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney and how he's excited about Clayton Wells' upcoming eatery, A1 Canteen in Chippendale.

Note: Marco Pierre White (and other chefs) have recently disputed Jock's version of events in Tim Elliott's deeply reported story for Good Weekend.