Nomad Chef Brendan Katich Goes Full Circle
Nomad’s head chef Brendan Katich has “a big emotional attachment” to his basement kitchen in Flinders Lane.
The Melbourne born-and-bred chef spent his formative years cooking in the subterranean venue when it was called Ezard, a fine-dining institution closed without fanfare by chef Teague Ezard in the blur of 2020’s pandemic lockdowns.
Now Brendan’s back in the iconic space under the Adelphi Hotel giving Melburnians a local take on Sydney’s most famous wood-fired diner, Nomad. With a slick renovation and gentle guidance from gun Nomad executive chef Jacqui Challinor, the Melbourne version has been buzzing since Brendan opened the doors in November with restaurant manager Danielle Gallienne-Smith, another Ezard veteran.
“Everything has come full circle,” says Brendan. “I worked at Ezard for four and half years, and it was the most formative experience of my career. I worked bloody hard, and genuinely loved it.
“I’ve always had a big emotional connection to that poky little basement. That’s the reason I talked to Jackie about Nomad… it just feels right.”
And the feeling must be mutual. In one of the most anticipated dinners of the year, Brendan and Jacqui will join forces with Teague in the Nomad Melbourne kitchen on September 13 for a reunion dinner combining the techniques and flavours of both venues.
Priced at $300 a head, the three-hour 10-course feast sold out so fast that the trio decided to do it again on September 14. Only a few tables remain (more details and bookings here).
Brendan is rapt to share the kitchen with his mentor again, celebrating the Ezard’s impressive history while honouring Nomad’s focus on fire, smoke, and fermentation.
“In many ways, modern cooking has come full circle,” Brendan says. “Back when I was an apprentice at the Sofitel, everything was so refined. We saw cooking become refined and refined and refined to the nth degree.
“Now we’re returning to ancient skills. It’s almost primitive and super humble cooking. That’s the way we cook at Nomad. We welcome people in.
“As a restaurant, Nomad is both special and familiar. It’s certainly free of any pretension. It’s about comfort and warmth, offering food that feeds the soul… hopefully an experience people want to come back for.”
Brendan and his team at Nomad will join an impressive list of hospitality stars on stage at Fine Food Australia in Melbourne.
Fine Food Australia’s Source Kitchen has challenged restaurants to create a jaw-dropping dish featuring the humble onion. Team Nomad will compete against Tonka’s Kay-Lene Tan, Loti’s Elijah Holland, Australian Venue Co’s Telina Menzies and MCG chef Rhys Blackley.
“It’s perfect timing for us because we had an amazing onion dish for our staff meal about six months ago,” Brendan says. “It wasn’t my dish. It was cooked by one of my CDPs (chefs de partie), Ali Besener. I don’t want to give too much away, but Ali is Turkish and his dish is very traditional. It’s also very surprising.”
La Luna Bistro’s Adrian Richardson will be the tasting judge, while spectators will have their say on appearance and innovation with an interactive poll using a phone app. Scores will be tallied to decide who gets the inaugural Onion Trophy.