Knives, Sweat & Salt

10 food and drink heroes

From German beer-makers to Adelaide’s rock star of wine, from a taste of Africa to groundbreaking creations using native produce, South Australia is the melting pot of exciting new flavours


Darryl Catlin

Sidewood’s winery and ciderhouse in the Adelaide Hills only started producing cider in 2014 but Darryl Catlin has already proven he has the stuff to take his creations to the next level. His Basket Pressed Pear Cider was chosen over ciders from eight different countries, winning the World’s Best Pear Cider at this year’s World Cider Awards. The cider is concentrate-free and made from all fruit picked in cool climes. And, like the coveted climate, it offers sweet spots and acidic crispness.

Sidewood at Maximilian’s
15 Onkaparinga Valley Rd, Verdun
08 8388 7777

Taras Ochota

Just about every piece ever written on Taras Ochota describes the new-age winemaker as “a wine rock star”. It’s an attempt to link his exciting wines with his youth playing in punk bands. His wines have been described as “piano-wire tight” and “leaving an energy that hums like a guitar”.

Based in the Adelaide Hills, Ochota was also behind the Fresh Wine Disco, one of the edgiest Tasting Australia events this year. Wines from 30-odd young winemakers – some just weeks post-harvest – were served directly from the barrel to funky DJ sounds and food.

Lost in a Forest
1203 Greenhill Rd, Uraidla
08 8390 3444

Imogen Czulowski

Duncan Welgemoed, quite rightly, steals the headlines for turning Adelaide restaurant Africola into what it is today – nationally recognised as one of the most exciting restaurants in the country. But behind the South African-born chef stands Imogen Czulowski, his new head chef who is a highly rated talent in her own right.

She enjoyed the training of accomplished chef David Swain at Fino. Here at Africola, she plates up veg, pulses and earthy spices of Morocco, Ethiopia and the northern Maghreb culture in Africa. The kitchen offers a style of its own with the signature blackened peppers and peri-peri chicken being true showstoppers.

4 East Tce, Adelaide
08 8223 3885

Sharon Romeo

Fino at Seppeltsfield has become a drawcard in the Barossa Valley after being transformed from what was once an old bottling hall into a sophisticated restaurant with French cafe chairs and on-trend tableware. Behind the transformation were chef David Swain and Sharon Romeo, known as a super host and ace sommelier. Romeo, who has become the face of the restaurant, has an amazing wine knowledge. Her small but exciting wine list has won several awards. Fino’s Willunga village roots are not forgotten and the couple continue to offer a concise, seasonally driven menu that puts the freshest South Australian produce front and centre.

Fino at Seppeltsfield
Seppeltsfield Rd, Seppeltsfield
08 8568 6200

Emma M

When a restaurant actually adds your name to its title, you know your reputation means something. The Pot by Emma McCaskill, originally Pot Food and Wine, is the first big solo gig for the young chef. She and her husband, Scott Huggins, relaunched the excellent Magill Estate restaurant a few years back and, with a desire to step out from the shadow of her partner, she decided to strike out under the umbrella of Adelaide restaurant mogul Simon Kardachi, The Pot’s owner. McCaskill’s time in Japan is reflected in the exquisite, nuanced flavours and elite produce seen in many of her dishes. She lets the ingredients speak for themselves. The result is food that is pared back but delicious.

The Pot by Emma McCaskill,
Shop 2/160 King William Rd, Hyde Park
08 8373 2044

Toby Kline and Steve Dorman

The Hills Cider Company is already a well-mapped success story, led by Toby Kline and Steve Dorman. The clever marketer and the brewer rescued many struggling apple and pear orchards in the Adelaide Hills and became pioneers of a new generation of artisan ciders in South Australia. Their ciders, now stocked around the country, use real fruits and are not as sweet as their syrup-filled counterparts. The Hills Pear Cider is unashamedly modern, fruit-forward and very Australian. The fresh, crisp, fragrant pear flavours certainly burst out of the glass. Last year, Kline and Dorman teamed up with Adelaide Hills Distillery and its mastermind Sacha La Forgia, who is behind the successful 78% Gin, a London dry-style gin sourced using many native Australian ingredients.

Cellar door coming soon and

7 Lachlan Colwill

The dining experience at chef Lachlan Colwill’s Hentley Farm may be subtle, nevertheless it is without a doubt one of Australia’s most exciting regional restaurants. So it comes as no surprise that it was named Restaurant of the Year in The Advertiser’s coveted Food Awards for the second time last year.

The aesthetics of the dishes are presented with wit and elegance on exquisite vessels and the food pays homage to the rich and first-class food region that is the Barossa.

The historic stable building is surrounded by the farm and vineyard, the source of many of the delicacies that arrive on your plate. And the young team of waiting and kitchen staff invite you to share Colwill’s vision with a friendly welcome that puts you at ease.

Hentley Farm Wines
Gerald Roberts Rd, Seppeltsfield
08 8562 8427

Corinna Steeb

It was bad beer that drove Corinna Steeb and husband, Frank Samson, to start award-winning company Prancing Pony. The German couple moved to Australia 35 years ago. They loved everything about their adopted homeland – except for the beer. Prancing Pony, which takes its name from the inn in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, quickly grew from an extensive home-brewing operation to producing one of the country’s most successful boutique beers. Its India Red Ale was crowned the supreme champion beer at the International Beer Challenge in London last year. Dr Steeb, who holds a medical science doctorate, can now boast that she produces “the best beer in the world” as measured by the judges.

Prancing Pony Brewery
42 Mount Barker Rd, Totness
08 8398 3881

Jock Zonfrillo

No other chef has gone deeper and harder into the integration of contemporary cooking and indigenous ingredients than the Scottish-born Jock Zonfrillo. This is the reason why The Australian named him the Hottest Chef of 2017. His Adelaide restaurant Orana has become the stage on which Zonfrillo presents his groundbreaking creations, using native foods. His 20-course dinners are legendary. They begin with some restrained drama: a cast-iron dish of hot coals with two tiny dampers arrives with a bowl of Goolwa pipis in smoked mussel broth, garnished with sea succulents, followed by a long list of absolutely delicious “snacks”. The Advertiser Food Guide sums it up perfectly: “Dining at Orana is a performance, delivered without pretension by masters of the culinary art,” the South Australian food bible says.

Restaurant Orana
1/285 Rundle St, Adelaide
08 8232 3444


WORDS – Nadja Fleet