Something of a quiet revolution is occurring in food-obsessed Sydney. The fact it’s seen as stuffy compared to the ‘always social’ Melbourne has irked a new generation of young chefs – who are flicking the finger and fighting back.
TOYS (The Taste of Young Sydney- www.toyscollective.com) is a new gastro movement founded by Kiwi chef Morgan McGlone – a self-professed ‘immigrant of intent’ – who has captured the eyes, ears and palettes of local fooderati. The collective hosts alternative dining events, serving up the likes of macaroon desserts served in dog trays and liquid petits in skincare bottles. The plat de resistance in their inaugural event was fried chicken with sweetcorn custard, foie gras and watermelon, blooded with beetroot and strawberry in homage to the life and murder of rapper Notorious B.I.G.
From the culture created by Jamie Oliver (does he really need to go around Britain again?) and the reality chef genre something cooler and harder was certain to rise to the surface. Media coverage of TOYS is more suggestive of hip-hop album covers than ‘the chef in the kitchen’ – these guys are tattooed, studded and brimming with some serious attitude.
A aggressive affront to the Old Guard and their tired view of ‘fine dining’, TOYS’ inspiration comes instead from neighbouring Asian cultures, ‘old man cuisine’ and contemporary fast food. The experience of eating in the real world is their material, rather than the world behind the cloistered walls of 4 star restaurants. Founder Morgan asks, “Who can be bothered with fine dining, really, food is for enjoying.”
And the word is catching on – Morgan is off to launch the Collective’s ideas in Manhattan, and the ‘small plates’ makeover of London’s Soho suggests that ‘cooking without rules’ is taking flight.