"If you want inspiration and to be offered an insight as to how to coax flavour into food, and an understanding of what cooking can be, and how to achieve this, then you are certain to greet this book with as much grateful glee as I do." - Nigella Lawson
make a fire. fake a fire. roast your oysters. dance for pipis. slow it down. raise a toast. take lunch. grill a salad. bake a crab. step outside. burn your pav. pass the salt. eat with your hands. chew on the bone.
Ester is an invitation to play with your food and enjoy the adventure. It's born of an eponymous restaurant in inner Sydney, but it's proudly not a restaurant book. Think of it more as the foundations for some new ideas in your kitchen and at your table; written to be used, shared, read aloud, perhaps burnt.
Mat Lindsay's cooking resists easy labels. Certainly it's a distinct kind of full-flavoured Australian food: generous, mindfully chosen seafood; darkly caramelised wood-fired bread; vegetables cooked to just the right level of doneness; meat that's been treated with respect and, often, time; and the odd burnt pavlova, a true signature. Ester the restaurant is all about its wood-fired oven and the magic it imparts, but the fundamentals don't change at home, and everything in this book can be made delicious wherever you live.
The ethos of Mat's acclaimed and widely beloved Chippendale restaurant has always been to offer guests a no-rules good time and the intention within these pages is just the same. Whether it prompts you to rethink the possibilities of toast, roast your fruit, try the classic cauliflower, or embrace Sunday lunch, the Ester playbook presents many ideas to cook and live by.
Mat Lindsay grew up on the central coast of New South Wales and had never been to a fancy restaurant until he walked into Rockpool, the fanciest restaurant in Sydney in its day, looking for a job to pay the bills while he was studying graphic design. Working for Neil Perry and then Kylie Kwong, two of Australia's most celebrated chefs, at Wokpool, Rockpool and at Billy Kwong, he learnt about produce and technique, about how to taste and how to build and balance flavour, and how to work beyond the idea of Western and Eastern cuisines. Ester, the restaurant he opened in Sydney's Chippendale in 2013, has become a standard-bearer for contemporary Australian dining, and Poly, the wine bar he opened in 2018, and A.P Bakery, which he opened in 2021, continue that tradition.
A restaurant critic and travel writer with more than two decades' experience to his name, Pat Nourse is the creative director of Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. A former editor at Gourmet Traveller, he has been published internationally in the likes of Condé Nast Traveller, Travel + Leisure, Saveur, Gourmet, Lucky Peach, Lonely Planet, Fool, The Robb Report and Afar, as well as in the books Signature Dishes That Matter and the Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails. Pat strongly disagrees with Mat's inflammatory views on avocado and mezcal.
"Never question anything Mat Lindsay does. Ever. He's a true genius, although the word is used so often it's become meaningless. But his particular mixture of sensibility, talent and devotional concentration is rare."—Nigella Lawson