22/11/2005 - 21:00

Definitive guide for foodies

22/11/2005 - 21:00


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Rod Properjohn and Michael Zekulich’s book Restaurants WA is a timely and welcome addition to the already vast collection of literature on the state’s food and wine industry.

Definitive guide for foodies

Rod Properjohn and Michael Zekulich’s book Restaurants WA is a timely and welcome addition to the already vast collection of literature on the state’s food and wine industry.

The 183-page book is an intelligent combination of restaurant reviews, a wine guide, recipe book, and history of Western Australia’s most recognised eateries, making for a fascinating, glove box-sized almanac of most things food and wine in WA.

In the eastern states, major newspapers routinely produce comprehensive guides for the Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide restaurant scenes. Yet here in WA, there is little in the way of a comparable and definitive guide of places to eat, drink and entertain.

And, more importantly, too little recognition has been given to the men and women who pioneered this state’s dining scene, and the suppliers who helped them do it.

But Restaurants WA aims to do that and more.

“We wanted to write more than just a history,” Mr Zekulich says.

“Rod and I wanted the book to be informative, educational and, above all, entertaining”.

Their work comprises comprehensive details of 200 of WA’s leading restaurants – 70 of them in depth. This, the functional side of the work, is clearly aimed to be a one-stop guide to eating out in Perth, as well as regional locations including Broome.

The authors did 78 interviews and took a little more than a year to produce this section, which goes far beyond the information contained in the restaurant guides that often appear in the back of glossies or festival tickets. Restaurants WA provides takes considered, up-to-date and balanced approach to the cross-section of restaurants it highlights.

But by far the most interesting aspect of the book is the brief history and homage it gives to the pioneers of the WA restaurant scene – those who first tilled the hospitality soils in WA.

For example there is a picture of Joe Corzino, the godfather of the local restaurant industry, in the middle of his former Highgate masterpiece, looking resplendent in red and gold fixtures.

In these days, when half a chicken and spaghetti was the epitome of dining in WA, this Italian migrant taught us what dining out was like.

“We wanted to include a history in the book to show people how far we have come in the state,” Mr Zekulich says.

Joining Mr Corzino are brief sections devoted to Francesco Catalano, who began one of the most important seafood distribution lines in WA, Anthony Torre, whose artisan’s approach to butchery is still repaid with a devoted following, and John Da Silva, the enigmatic market gardener.

The book further extends itself, giving a brief and often surprising glimpse into the background of many of Perth’s restaurants. There are stories about long lunches at the Court Wine Bar, recounted memories of Clyde Bevan as a disc jockey, Alain Fabregues riding around Europe and North Africa on a motorbike, and many, many more.

The authors even persuaded the chefs to part with one of their favourite recipes, which are faithfully reprinted alongside information about the restaurant they came from.

And what book by a Properjohn or a Zekulich would be complete without at least the casual mention of wine? Each restaurant/recipe entry has an expertly picked wine match to accompany it.

Restaurants WA may be just in time for Christmas but it also comes at boom time for the local hospitality industry. So much so that when Tourism Council of WA chief Ron Buckey launched it last week, he said the tourism industry was now the second biggest earner for WA, contributing $4.8 billion to the state’s economy.

It is now only eclipsed by the mining and resource industry.

“WA restaurants are as good as if not better than in the rest of Australia, with very competitive prices,” Mr Zekulich told Gusto at the launch.


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