Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

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.

May 26, 2017

Mike McEnearney’s career has been full of surprising turns. Sure, he’s worked for Neil Perry and Gordon Ramsay – but also for Damien Hirst, running the controversial artist’s Pharmacy restaurant, where even the toilets were unlike anything you’d predict. He’s been involved with hatted and Michelin-starred restaurants, but also sold home-made bread in the car park of his kids’ school and nearly been taken out by a life-threatening fireball at a French homewares store while cooking at a pop-up  that may or may not have been entirely legal … Then there’s the you-wouldn’t-believe-it inspiration behind his medicinal garden.

After being the head chef at Perry’s Rockpool restaurant, Mike subverted the career path that was expected of him and instead took a big paycut to learn how to make bread. He also put together his own oven, brick by brick, using Pythagoras’ theorem.

The chef has also helped redefine what “eating well in Sydney” meant, re-gathering his Rockpool team to run Kitchen By Mike, an industrial canteen that was the polar opposite of the fine-dining world they came from. He’s even made it possible to eat well at Sydney airport, where there currently is a Kitchen By Mike outpost.

A serial multitasker, Mike also is the creative director of Carriageworks Farmer Markets and is involved in its food program, which includes the next instalment of Night Market and the 2017 Sydney Table events, which I happen to be MCing!

As part of the Vivid program, Carriageworks will pair chefs with artists for its one-of-a-kind Sydney Table dinner series. On June 14, O Tama Carey teams up with floral artist Tracey Deep; on June 15, Clayton Wells will also be collaborating with a floral artist – Saskia Havekes of Grandiflora, on June 16, James Viles will work with painter Craig Waddell, and for the finale on June 17, Ben Sears’ night will unfold with an origami extravaganza by Keiko Matsui.

For bookings and details about Sydney Table, visit

The dinners will place in a formerly unused part of Carriageworks, where people used to make railway workers unions.

You can listen to this episode on iTunes or download it via RSS or directly. And thanks to everyone who has kindly spread the word about this podcast or even dropped some nice words in the iTunes store – it makes all the late-night battles with audio files and editing sessions worth it!

PS Thanks to The Mitchen also for featuring me on a recent episode.