Sydneysiders are calling The Riverview Hotel in Balmain their new favourite local, and they can thank Head Chef Brad Sloane for that.
After training with Michelin-starred Billy Reid at West London’s Belvedere Restaurant, Brad headed back to Australia and enjoyed stints at Balzac Restaurant and Sugaroom in Sydney. Bringing those modern British influences to the recently-reopened Riverview Hotel, Brad is winning over critics and diners alike with classic gastropub dishes such as fish pie, fish and chips and bread and butter pudding.
Where did you grow up?
“South Coast, NSW.”
When did you realise you wanted to be a chef?
“I first fell in love with food when serving as a kitchen hand at Silos Estate in 1998.”
Is there one dish you still struggle to get right?
“I am by no means an accomplished sushi chef. Wrapping rice in seaweed isn’t really my thing, although I do like to eat it.”
What does it take to be a successful chef?
“Food has to be more than a passion, it must be a way of life. You have to be willing to work incredibly hard for long periods of time. People don’t realise that our days begin at 4.30am with trips to the local markets, and can finish well after midnight.”
Worst job you have ever had?
“My brother and I tried to start a pest control business at 10 years old. We had hand-made leaflets, business cards, a home office - the works. Needless to say we didn’t make any money.”
What is your signature dish?
“You can’t beat my traditional fish pie with tender chunks of fresh fish covered in golden, flaky, puff pastry.”
What is unique about your restaurant?
“The Riverview Hotel is a historic establishment that mixes rich pub traditions with a uniquely local experience. Something we pride ourselves on is our ability to deliver a gourmet dining experience, regardless of where the customer is sitting. A Balmain local perched at the bar watching the game can order off the same menu as a couple sitting upstairs in our restaurant. This realistic attitude towards cuisine played a huge part in the AHA naming us Gastronomic Hotel of the Year 2009.”
What is the chef serving in heaven?
“Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. In every way, shape, and form imaginable. And no one ever gains weight... “
What is the most bizarre dish you have ever tried?
“Dog and sea slug. I am usually pretty open to trying new things, but these two experiences scarred me for life.”
What is one question people are always asking you?
“What do you cook at home?”
What is your biggest food indulgence?
“Chocolate. I eat it every day without fail, in any form available.”
How do you have your coffee?
“A no-fuss flat white.”
What ingredient are you obsessed with right now?
“Vincotto; a full-bodied, velvety vinegar that mixes well with sweet or savoury. You can use it to enhance chicken, fish or roast meat or just to drizzle over sweet treats such as panna cotta, ice-cream or berry-based desserts.”
Which three people would you invite to a dinner party?
“I would invite Jamie Oliver, because I have a lot of respect for his food philosophies, Jessica Alba for obvious reasons and Mr T, just because I can.”
What is your best tip for home cooks?
“Keep it simple and keep it fresh.”