Monday night saw Paul Wilson take up residence in the Icebergs kitchen for a much anticipated one-night-only dinner. The meall was part of restaurateur Maurice Terzini’s celebrations to mark a decade of Icebergs Dining Room and Bar. Rather than have a one-off party, he’s been celebrating with a succession of 10 dinners each executed by 10 different chefs who have made an indelible mark on the Australian dining scene. Wilson’s dinner was number four on a list that includes Neil Perry (Rockpool, Rosetta, Spice Temple) and Andrew McConnell (Golden Fields, Cutler & Co., Cumulus Inc.), with the dinners rounding out with a final appearance by Momofuku’s David Chang.
“I chose Paul because I’m trying to get him to stay up here,” joked Terzini of the Melbourne-based chef, whose food has graced Circa, the Newmarket Hotel and Middle Park Hotel to name a few. “I think Paul is absolutely incredible…and it was great to see that he didn’t bring a brigade with him. He’s been in the kitchen doing everything himself.”
Terzini and Wilson have a long history and a mutual respect for each other’s achievements in the industry. “It was a great opportunity to cook in Sydney at such an iconic venue with an iconic restaurateur,” said Wilson of the night. “With Maurice I knew it would be an enjoyable event…you know it will be done well and customer focused.” A more perfect setting couldn’t have greeted guests for Wilson’s dinner, with a clear Sydney winter evening showing off a silver wash of moonlight across the Bondi waves. Friends and guests gathered in the bar for signature cocktails and relaxed music, before heading to the dining room to enjoye Wilson’s carefully crafted Italian feast.
“I wanted to cook Italian because of Maurice’s heritage and it’s a respectful thing to do,” said Wilson. “And I wanted to draw from the little known regions. We get a lot of homogenous Italian in Australia and specific styles like the trattoria, but I wanted to do a selection from different areas and use winter produce too.”
The combination of Wilson commanding the kitchen and Terzini running the floor was a rare treat for Sydney diners and a chance to see two of the industries icons at work, with Wilson’s food seamlessly delivered to tables by Terzini and his team dressed in their distinctive black vest, tie and long white aprons.
Antipasto of warm farm egg with Piemontese polenta, truffles and reggiano, primo of Sardinian style calamari with seaweed, carta di musica and bottarga, followed by secondo of “new style” Bollito Misto stew with Umbrian lentils and native herb salsa were proof of Wilson’s cooking pedigree, with a tip of the hat to Terzini’s reputation for excellent Italian food. “It was a feast,” saud Wilson. “It was a hearty menu and I wanted it to be generous and give a sense of place and indulgence. I wanted people to leave with a smile on their faces.”
Terzini was equally thrilled with the choice of dishes. “It’s his ability to interpret Italian food that’s great,” he said of Wilson’s menu. “He doesn’t usually do Italian, but he did it for us and cooked it with so much knowledge. I loved every dish.”
Mix that with Terzini’s gift for hospitality and it was impossible not to have an enjoyable evening at Icebergs – particularly with something as big as a decade to celebrate.