Nelly Robinson is a master of creating an all-encompassing dining experience, one with a sense of humour at that. He is executive chef and owner of Sydney hot spot nel. He was also recently announced in the top 300 chefs in the world. We were delighted to catch up with him and talk about his creative process for creating show stopping dining experiences.
Event Emporium: You have a way of creating a show stopping moment with your dishes, and many of these end up on Instagram. Tell us a bit about your creative process behind these moments people love and can’t help but share.
Nelly Robinson: My thought process all comes from memories of life, it could be when I was younger or yesterday but there is always moments in life that I can create into a amazing dish. I think about the theme of the menu, which in my restaurant at the moment is Australian, and then think what food means Australia to me like a Bunnings sausage sizzle or a lamington and give it my twist. The next menu will be Disney so look out for Pinnochio’s truffle nose…
EE: We’ve collaborated with you before and were blown away by your ability to deliver on a client brief. You understand how to bring tangible elements of a brand to life through food. Is communicating something to your diners hearts and minds a large part of designing a menu for you?
NR: 100%! People think that food is only taste but you have to use all of the senses to give the diner a whole experience – eyes, ears, nose and mouth are a big part of my menu design. I love creating an immerive moment so the guest will always remember nel, and when we explain the thought process too the diner gains a deeper understanding of the journey.
EE: Your name is well known all over the world, seats in your Sydney restaurant are highly sought-after, and event attendees are delighted when they hear you are preparing their lunch. What’s your secret?
NR: I will always be Nelly from a little town in England and have my feet on the floor. At the end of the day it’s not about Nelly Robinson its about the guests who are experiencing what we create. When I cater an event I put 100% into every detail to make sure they get the experience they deserve. When I see guests smile and pat me on the back I know i’ve done a good thing.
EE: You have traveled extensively and incorporated many different cuisines and techniques in to your menus, what is inspiring you the most now?
NR: I’m very lucky in my job as I can travel for work and pick up new ideas. In May I’m in the Maldives doing a exclusive diner on a beautiful island and last year I traveled to Milan for the global chef awards but living in Australia really excites me because I love using ingredients and garnishes that are free like paper bark and pine, or I go foraging to the beach for seaweed and Neptune pearls which are found all over. I love Australia cause we don’t have a cuisine as we are a mixed cultural country with different cuisines and that is the beauty of Australia I express.