Gourmet Traveller


“Cotechino is one of my favourite things. It’s delicious. It might need to make an appearance on the menu now.”

It’s been 12 months since fire closed Nomad’s Foster Street site in Sydney’s Surry Hills. At the time, executive chef Jacqui Challinor thought she’d hit rock bottom. Little did she know what 2020 had in store. “Nightmare,” she says simply when asked to describe the past few months. “It’s been one thing after the other, after the other.” In November, Challinor and her team relocated to Commonwealth Street to open the temporary site Nomad Up the Road, while the fire-ravaged restaurant was rebuilt. At the same time, plans for a Melbourne restaurant progressed, with owners Rebecca and Al Yazbek announcing the news in December.

“We had a great Christmas. We were all really stoked and everyone was in high spirits. Then the bushfire season hit. That was a catastrophe.”

Challinor sprung into action, mobilising Sydney’s food and hospitality industry to take part in the Cook for the Bush fundraiser, with many of the country’s top chefs donating their time and talent to the event.

“I presented the idea and it just snowballed so quickly,” recalls Challinor. “I’ve never done something on that scale before. It was amazing and such a cool thing to be part of, but it was also incredibly draining.”

Having raised close to $150,000 for the bushfire appeal, Challinor took some much needed time off, heading to the Maldives for a month. By the time she returned, the Covid-19 pandemic had gripped the world and Australia was preparing to shut down. “It was four months from when we unpacked to when we started packing up again. It was like, ‘What just happened? Why am I

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