After cooking in Chicago for years, chef Ryan Poli took off to stage at restaurants across the country and around the world. He rediscovered his passion for cooking as well as an arsenal of new ingredients and techniques. He is now the chef at The Catbird Seat in Nashville.
Heading to the other side of the world for a 5-day food tour seems crazy to some, but to me it is pretty normal. We took a week's vacation at The Catbird Seat, so I bought a ticket and 40 hours later was on the other side of the world. Having spent four months in Australia staging and traveling, I was pretty set on what needed to be done to maximize my time on the ground. Seeing some old friends at the Noma pop up was one of the main reasons I was there, but I also wanted to eat at some new places that had opened in the last year. For sightseeing, Bondi Beach is a must. It's great for watching surfers or just people watching. It's one of the most famous beaches in the world, and it is not too far from the city. Another fun thing to do is to walk around the opera house and get a picture by the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Yeah, it's touristy, but you’re a tourist—so go with the flow. And Surry Hills is a cool neighborhood just to walk around and do some shopping. There are loads of boutique shops, art stores, coffee shops and restaurants. On the stretch of Crowne Street, there are a bunch of thrift stores which are great to find old 1980s skateboarding shirts and other weird, fun stuff.
Creamy Burrata with Shellfish Stock: Automata
First on the list was Automata, a restaurant by chef Clayton Wells (formerly of Momofuku Seiōbo) that opened just after I left Australia last July. I was totally blown away by his flavors. The restaurant only serves a 5-course tasting menu and it might be one of the hardest reservations to get. That night, there was burrata cheese injected with a shellfish stock—one on the most unique and delicate flavor combinations I have ever eaten. The creaminess of the cheese and rich shellfish flavor paired really well together. House-made blood pudding was a showstopper. And I had some great sake with the meal.