The co-founder of Sydney restaurant, Nomad, which she runs with her husband Al, tells us how her design background is channelled into its every detail.
What was your inspiration behind the interior look of Nomad?
We were looking for a space for Nomad for two years until we finally secured Foster Street – a Surry Hills warehouse dating back to the 1800s. Stripping back the interiors, which was white plasterboard walls and ceiling, to reveal the history and bones of the space was an absolute revelation. I wanted the space to feel warm and for the materials to be tactile to reflect the beauty of the history of the space. I wanted Nomad to be quintessentially Australian, showcasing Australian artisan design and workmanship without being ‘themed’.
What was it like working so closely with your husband on the project?
We have very different skill sets. He is a builder by trade and with my background in design we had a clear delineation of what he was charged with and what I was. Still today we have our different strengths and weaknesses and luckily they are complementary – most of the time!
Was taking your passion for interior design into the realm of food and wine a natural progression for you?
My husband was a restaurateur when we met. None of my friends were surprised when we started dating and it did feel like a natural progression when we started the process of coming up with a concept and executing the build of Nomad. It was driving to the opening with staff and customers that was the daunting part for me, although food and wine have always been my absolute passion, turning this into a career has been a huge learning curve.
Does your design influence filter down to the level of the glassware, cutlery and crockery?
Yes, we had a few delays with council approvals and the like with getting Nomad open so I did have the luxury of time when it came to the small details that really have an impact on our diners. The crockery was all designed and handmade by local potter Malcolm Greenwood. The colour palette and organic shapes of all of our plateware was a reflection of what I was after for the look and feel of our restaurant.
What’s your favourite NOMAD dish?
Our house-made haloumi. The accompaniments change with the season but the actual cheese, which is made by our chefs daily, I still can’t get enough of.
What do you love about the smaller producers you use?
Smaller producers have a story behind what they do and a passion for what they create. Whether it be a milk producer from the Hawkesbury area north of Sydney or a wine producer from Beechworth Victoria, there are so many people producing incredible products that deserve to be celebrated.
Have you got any plans for Nomad going forward?
Always planning! We have changed our menu and wine list for the winter and there is no better place to be on a cold blustering night than our dining room with wood-roasted pork and a cheeky glass of red from Canberra.
Any other ventures on the horizon?
We are looking at opportunities but it has to be the right move. We waited two years for our warehouse in Surry Hills. We are willing to wait for the next right move.