The legendary chef Marco Pierre White has been coming to Australia for over a decade now and has, like many of his contemporaries from both near and afar, begun to notice a distinct change in the atmosphere.

“What’s interesting is how the food scene has evolved and changed enormously,” White tells GRAZIA. “It’s this sort of gastronomic revolution that has gone on. And the one thing I do think that the Australians do as well, if not better, than everybody else is that middle market where they make food affordable, delicious and serve it within really cool environments.”

White, whom many Australians will no doubt be familiar with through his role as the tremble-inducing chef mentor of each successive cohort of amateur cooks who file through the ranks ofMasterChef each year, arrived in Sydney yesterday ahead of a panel appearance as part of Good Food Month. Tomorrow, White will appear in conversation with food critic Jill Dupleix, the restaurateur and chef behind Adelaide’s buzziest restaurant, Duncan Welgemoed, and Sydney fine dining legend Peter Gilmore.

“I like that casual way of dining and I think it is the way forward actually,” continues White. “And Melbourne does it very well; they’ve got a very good restaurant scene there. It’s casual within glamorous environments – I think that’s where the world is going now. It’s ‘affordable glamour’, isn’t it?”

Herewith, White shares some of favourite Australian restaurants serving affordable glamour and irresistible food.

Don’t miss White in conversation at Hilton Sydney from 2pm on Saturday October 7. You can find out more information here. 

“My favourite restaurant in Melbourne is Tipo 00,” says White. “It’s the best food – it’s head and shoulders above everything, and I think it only has one [Good Food Guide] hat. You go to [two and three hatted] restaurants and they don’t deliver food as good. Tipo 00, in my opinion, is the best food. You have the risotto, it’s delicious. The salumi is beautiful quality, whatever you get. It’s intelligent food in the sense that it’s traditional and authentic with a modern touch. I’ve dined in a lot of places in Melbourne and none of them deliver the standard of Tipo 00, in my opinion. Last time I was there, I had a [Moreton Bay bug] risotto – delicious. The time before I had a risotto with nettles – intelligent, delicious, and the rice was cooked to perfection. That is my favourite restaurant [perhaps] in all of Australia actually, because that’s the food I want to eat. I’m not saying it’s the finest, but I like that environment.” [Editor’s note: he’s entirely correct.]

“I always go to a restaurant on the bridge, Fatto [Bar & Cantina]. I’ve only ever had two dishes there. I start with the salumi and the prosciutto with mozzarella, and then I had the linguini with crab and chilli. Delicious. I’m one of those people that go to a restaurant for certain things. If you cook a delicious roast chicken, whenever I fancy that I’ll come and see you. I don’t need to explore.”

“If I go to Flower Drum in Melbourne I’ll always have the braised beef cheek,” says White, who describes himself as being “100% a creature of habit.” The chef-turned-hotelier says he invariably orders “the lobster with spring onion and ginger and the noodles; I’ll always have the Peking duck; I’ll always finish with the toffee banana [fritters]. That’s why I go there, I never stray from that.”

The scene at Africola

“I like Africola very much. Very clever concept. Very, very, very, very clever concept”, says White. Duncan Welgemoed, co-owner of Africola and one of the most-talked about young chefs in Australia, trained under both Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay – both of whom are former protégés of White himself, and who inherited the mantle of ‘rock star chef’ from the original enfant terrible of the London food scene. That it’s now possible to trace White’s impact across generations of chefs at the top of the game across the other side of the world in Adelaide is nothing less than extraordinary. “I like that you can sit at the bar and just there they’re grilling the chicken. It’s dinner in the kitchen really, without the pretence.”

“There’s this place called Lost in a Forest – a pizzeria. It’s in the Adelaide Hills. Sensational. I was really shocked. I thought, ‘Lost in a Forest? In an old church?’ But the pizza is sensational.”

“I went to La Rosa last night and had tripe. Very nice, very simple. We had delicious pasta. I love tripe. Before I leave I’ll go back there because I’m obsessed with tripe. I had the Trippa alla Romana. I’m looking forward to having another bowl.”

Tile and cover image: Courtesy of Tipo 00