Jock Zonfrillo embraces all the elements of Australia – from ancient civilisations to the modern day – and in the process he has created a food philosophy and cuisine style that are uniquely his own. His curiosity for the land, the produce, the people and the history of the country has resulted in over a decade of research and exploration of regional Australian produce. Orana is home to his findings, his philosophy and his cuisine.
In particular, Jock connects with country and the ancient culture of the Aboriginal people, the oldest surviving culture that dates back more than 60,000 years. He comments, “By connecting with the Aboriginal people we are influenced by their values, customs and traditions. They are part of the land – custodians rather than owners.”
The chef further explains, “Our cooking simply respects Australia’s food history. We celebrate produce from all over the continent. Of course there is a strong influence from South Australia and the abundance of local ingredients on our doorstep, stretching from the Adelaide Hills to the coast. We approach our cooking with an understanding of where our ingredients originate and the culture of the Aboriginal people, whose philosophy to heal and be healed by the land and to always give back more than you take, strongly influences the identity of our kitchen.”
Born in Scotland to an Italian and Scottish family, Jock Zonfrillo’s formative years were heavily influenced by his grandfathers who both had a genuine love of nature and understanding of the land. His Scottish grandfather was a beef and arable farmer and his Neapolitan nonno instilled a passion for superior quality ingredients and a joy of great tasting food. Unsurprisingly, the kitchen was a natural home for Zonfrillo and a place where, even from the very early stages of his career, he married both respect for produce with his craft.
Honing his skills in the great country house hotels of Scotland, Jock was inevitably attracted to the dynamic and competitive kitchens of London where he worked with many great chefs, including Marco Pierre White. At Restaurant Marco Pierre White in Knightsbridge, Jock was part of the team that gained a third Michelin star.
The need to reconnect with ingredients directly at their source prevailed and Jock moved to Kent – the “Garden of England” – and worked with David Cavalier at Michelin starred Chapter One. Wanting to further expand his knowledge base and curious to experience new culinary cultures, Jock moved halfway around the world and spent a sabbatical year in Australia at Sydney’s Restaurant 41.
Australia had a huge impact on Zonfrillo, but he still returned to the UK as planned. Working again for Marco Pierre White at Les Saveurs, Jock eventually left the Marco fold to join the opening team at The Pharmacy by artist Damien Hirst, a restaurant that captured the imagination of London and received international acclaim for its cutting edge cuisine. Yearning to be in contact with nature, Jock opened a restaurant in a small boutique hotel on the spectacular Cornish coast, his last position in the UK.
The year spent in Sydney had truly made its mark. He had discovered his spiritual home in Australia and was captivated.
In 2000 the opportunity to return to Australia as head chef of Restaurant 41 presented itself and Zonfrillo immediately took it. His time in Sydney was followed by consultancy work before he moved to Adelaide as Executive Chef at Magill Estate Restaurant. He remains in Adelaide and is now chef/owner of Street - ADL and Orana restaurants, his first solo ventures.
Describe your culinary philosophy in 4 words...
Australian, United, Natural, Connected
What is your greatest inspiration?
My greatest inspiration at Orana has been the First Australians, the aboriginal people, the oldest culture on this planet. I effectively went back to school when I started visiting communities over a decade ago and started to learn about their culture, traditions and amazing ingredients that are, although becoming rarer, wild harvested, cooked and eaten to this day in some communities. Being present in a community offered me a place to learn, I just shut my mouth and watched. It is always inspirational of course, but also humbling.
If you could take a plane ride to any restaurant in the world, just for one meal, where would you go?
I'd be outrageously greedy and go to as many as possible. First stop would be to Barcelona and I'd eat my way round the many Tapas bars which blow my mind they are so good. Amazing delicious honest food. I'd start the day in Pinotxo, a 14-seat—make that 14-stool bar in the Boqueria markets that is nearing its 100th anniversary. Proprietor Juanito know as Pinotxo (pee-no-cho) greets everyone like his long lost pal. The food is for the working man, earthy and rustic with real soul.
What four things would you take to a desert island?
One medium sized sharp knife - potential spear for fishing, preparing food & self defense!
iPod - who could possibly live without music?
Solar charger - to make sure I always have the music!
Photographs of my two amazing gorgeous daughters - Might just be a photo but with it brings a million memories.
- Orana | South Australia’s best newcomer Restaurant | Restaurant and Catering SA Awards for Excellence
- Orana | Best Fine Dining Restaurant | Restaurant and Catering Awards for Excellence
285 Rundle St
Adelaide SA 5000
+61 8 8232 3444
Images © Matthew Turner