Phil Wood

Phil Wood is an alchemist, a master of balancing flavours and texture. Phil’s sensitivity to – and understanding of – flavour and texture has been honed during his time at Tetsuya’s and The French Laundry, and has since found it’s home in the Asian influenced food of Rockpool Est.1989. So when I asked Phil if he thought Australia should now be considered a part of Asia he wholeheartedly agreed.

He said: “I think we have a beautiful way of seasoning in Australia because of the influence of Thai food over the last 20 years – Chinese, Korean and the Vietnamese have all contributed in a different ways of seasoning – but in particular Thai. We have that balance of sweet, salty, sour and a little bit of heat and acidity. It’s also that balance of temperature and texture – texture being very important coming from the Chinese influence on Australian food.”

Wagyu from a Japanese-run wagyu production in the Blue Mountains around the Megalong Valley – cooked really slowly in the pan until a butter like consistency is achieved.

Chinese influenced Crab dish with the salted duck egg emulsion with black vinegar and Korean soy.

Bass Groper wrapped in Nori and brushed with kombu and Korean sesame oil, steamed at
45 degrees.

“What is so amazing and a credit to guys like Neil, is that for the last 25 years or so they have been crediting the suppliers and produce as the stars of the restaurant – because they gave us that lamb or they gave us that beef or they gave us that fish or they grew those vegetables – and he’s been doing that on his menus since the early ‘90s. I think we’re potentially on the cusp of massive revolution in food in Australia in terms of maybe the supermarkets losing the grip on the producers.”

Charming, laid back and completely creative, it was a privilege to shoot his food and also watch the respect Phil Wood commands during service.

Footnote: Rockpool Est.1989 is closing in July, in order to open a new restaurant Eleven Bridge, offering the same premium, sustainable produce, sourced locally with world-class service in a more relaxed, a la carte style.