The very 'Best' chef in the land of Oz?
Working Western Australia 's goldmines is hardly the most conventional career path for a chef- yet until the age of 25, that's just how Mark Best earned a crust. But, in 1990, an apprenticeship at the Macleay Street Bistro sparked a flair for cooking- and a love of French cuisine. He rose through the ranks pretty fast, too- awarded the Josephine Pignolet Award for ‘Best Up and Coming Chef in New South Wales' a mere four years in.
The award provided the rookie chef a with a big boost, and 1995 saw the opening of Best's own restaurant- the Peninsula Bistro in Balmain. A few years down the line, and ever restless, Best was driven to further his understanding of all things French with stints at both Alain Passard's triple Michelin-starred 'L'Arpege' in Paris and Raymond Blanc's 'Le Manoir Aux Quatre Seasons' in Oxfordshire.
What did the chef take from the experiences? A host of new skills to add to his culinary battalion, that's for sure- but also the urge to open yet another restaurant back in Australia- 2000's 'Marque'.
Best's dedication was recognised by fans and critics alike, with numerous awards and accolades being bestowed just 5 months in. The praise- and the quality- hasn't dwindled since then, either, with a string of further titles to date and 'Marque' shortlisted for another raft in 2010.
Best's food is startling- clean, bright flavours brought together in oft-surprising combinations. Whilst dishes such as Almond Jelly with Crab, Almond Gazpacho, Prune Oil & Sweet Corn Custard or Caramelised Tomato Stuffed with Twelve Flavours and Star Anise ice cream may occasionally jar on the page, the execution on the plate speaks of a man who's at the top of his game- and the front of the pack.
With such a complex, deliciously thought provoking menu on offer, the 8-course degustation with accompanying wines delivers the most comprehensive insight into this chef's mind. The role call of ingredients is testament to Best's dedication to quality sourcing, whilst beguiling dishes span everything from Blue swimmer crab to Campari bon bons, via Roast quail and Poached veal loin. All considered, Mark Best's name seems all the more fitting- and it’s likely to be on everyone’s lips soon.