Executive chef and owner, Nelly opened his internationally-acclaimed nel. restaurant in Sydney at the age of 29. Nelly and his team fuse contemporary interpretations with modern Australian dishes and create an unforgettable degustation experience for every guest. Nelly has become one of Sydney’s top chef personalities, and is acclaimed for his innovative creations and attention to detail. We had the chance to chat with Nelly and can’t wait to taste his latest creations for ourselves!
Where does your inspiration for creative dishes come from? Creating a dish doesn’t come from one mind at nel., we have myself and 3 senior staff all coming up with endless ideas. For me personally, I get a lot of inspiration from memories in life, this could come from my childhood or a recent trip I have been on.. we then use this memory to create a dish.
You are known to stamp your foods with your personality. Can you give us an example of how you weave yourself into your dishes? Cheeky is a word that gets used about me and with that I love to put a cheeky side to my dishes with a little twist of surprise. I also like to stamp my personality on the restaurant too with the customers feeling welcome and loved like it used to be for me living in my home back in the U.K
Your kitchen showcases seasonal produce- what’s on for this spring? Changing the menu every 6 weeks is a great challenge but a challenge we all love. On this menu, we are at the start of spring so we went down the road of light flavours but being able to showcase the amazing produce from around Australia. A few dishes featuring at the moment are wild caught Barramundi from QLD with saffron gel, fungi mushroom, ginger and caviar, Main course is Lamb which has been dry aged for 7 days, served with borlotti beans, broad beans, baby eggplant and artichoke, and for dessert, our Pastry Chef Jason Brown created a bee pollen dessert with lavender, lemonade fruit and honey mead. As you can see, we like to use produce that is in season, potentially produce that guests are unfamiliar with but also put our twist on it.
Do you find it a challenge to constantly innovate? I think challenges in the menu development make you a better restaurant, the brain is always working hard to produce and gives you the opportunity to better yourself. We love changing the menu as we have customers coming back to nel. for the menu change every time and they love that when they walk down the stairs, they have a completely different experience in terms of food and wine. I love trying to better ourselves but it also helps us meet different and amazing producers from around the world.
Why Surry Hills? What led you to opening nel. in this community? First of all, it was the space that led to the opening of nel. I was drawn to the underground space that had exposed brick walls and piping and we added to this with copper and wood finishings. I fell in love with the space as soon as I walked in and my excitement turned to reality. The location of the restaurant now and the high foot traffic is just a bonus. Join us for an October Table excursion to nel.