Reflecting on Broadsheet’s inaugural list of emerging Perth chefs to watch, it’s encouraging to see many of the names in that article continuing to kick goals for diners, industries and themselves. As we cross the half-way mark of 2023, now feels like an apt time to shine a light on the next generation of kitchen talents keeping things interesting (and delicious) out west.
Some of these first-time chefs have gotten where they are by following the traditional cooking route of working at heavyweight kitchens here, there and everywhere. Others are sea-changers that swapped lanes later in life. All show huge promise and are names that deserve to be on your radar. In alphabetical order, these rookies to watch are:
Corey Rozario, Dahl Daddys
A one-time boilermaker, Corey Rozario found a new calling cooking food from his Burmese heritage – plus dishes from other South Asian nations – and locals in Margaret River dined happily ever after. While the dal is entirely deserving of its headliner status, rotating specials including kangaroo tail curries and mohinga (Myanmar’s famous fish stew), plus punchy house-made condiments, ensure Dahl Daddys is no one-trick pony.
Eddie Bulatao, Luis’
Although “it chef” Paul Bentley consults on the food at members-only social club Lawson Flats, the man in charge of in-house all-day diner Luis’ is Eddie Bulatao: an up-and-comer who’s spent time at bustling Coogee Common and polished CBD fine-diner, Any. Bulatao is a cook that clearly sweats the details, ensuring the lettuce in the mighty BLT is cut chiffonnade; the burgers are cooked pink; and that every avo toast leaves the kitchen perked up with ribbons of lightly pickled cucumber and a lively jolt of limey acidity.
Elliot Sawiris, Nextdoor
Elliot Sawiris seems to be enjoying himself immensely at this neighbourhood restaurant in South Perth. His time at Rockpool is evident in the handling of premium beef, both in terms of the cuts offered – deeply marbled Denver cut from the eye chuck and top-dollar Japanese Wagyu, say – and how they’re cooked on the open hearth. Our man’s snack game is also on-point. Deboned chicken wings are stuffed with prawn and porcini, then fried golden. Pickled rapini gets incorporated into the Yemeni hot sauce known as zhoug: an excellent accessory to terrific hummus.
James Higgs, Lulu La Delizia
A long-serving member of the Lulu kitchen team, Higgs has spent close to seven years learning the finer points of pasta-making from chef-owner, Joel Valvasori-Pereza. So when Valvasori-Pereza made the move to front-of-house, Higgs was the obvious choice to take over the kitchen. And as Lulu regulars will attest, it’s been very much business as usual during the Higgs era, with Lulu continuing to win guests over with fortifying pastas, northern Italian-inspired snacks and terrific regional wines and grappa.
Natasha Brownfield, Teeter Bakery
Are bakers chefs? This one is: not just because Natasha Brownfield amassed kitchen experience around Perth, but also because she brings plenty of seasonal, ingredient-first thinking to Teeter Bakery, her East Perth paean to flour power. Frangipane tarts are powered by bravo apples; pithiviers are bulked out with gruyere and kale; and the fillings for sandwiches – sometimes made with brioche, other times with thick, old-school high-top tin loaf bead – sparkle with vitality.
Nobukazu Muraki, Rojiura Curry Samurai
For three years, Nobukazu Muraki split his time between his salaryman day job in Tokyo and making Hokkaido-style curry in the evenings. Based on the food served at Rojiura Curry Samurai, those years were well spent. Come for the soupy, deeply flavoured curry that can be fine-tuned to your liking: stay for an utterly charming dining room complete with smiley service and arguably one of the CBD’s loveliest bathrooms.
Zoe Ciotta, Chutzpah Deli
Rick Stein. Angela Hartnett. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his legendary River Cottage: the CV of Zoe Ciotta features some key British names, but it’s Ciotta’s decision to lean into her own Jewish food heritage – not to mention her stint at Eyal Jagermann’s feted North African-Middle Eastern restaurant The Barbay – that paved the way for her food pop-up, Chutzpah Deli. Although the menu changes with every event – sometimes there’ll be chermoula, sometimes there’ll be msabaha – guests can count on bold flavour and elite baked goods.