It’s no accident that Adam D’Sylva has become one of the most talked about chefs in town. As part owner and head chef of CODA, Melbourne’s hottest bar and restaurant, Adam has built himself an enviable culinary reputation.
Cooking for Adam began as a child growing up in a mixed Indian/Italian family where his mother was a major influence on his decision to follow his passion for cooking.
“I fell in love with food from an early age. My nonna and aunty looked after us when we were young and always let us cook and eat with them,” explains Adam.
Adam’s apprenticeship began at Hilton on the Park in Melbourne before working as a chef at the popular celebrity restaurant, Cosi, in South Yarra. He then explored his love for quality food travelling through Europe and Asia working in restaurants in the Marche region of Italy and Hong Kong.
Returning to Australia, Adam worked as head chef under the much awarded and respected Geoff Lindsay at Pearl Restaurant, one of Melbourne’s most highly regarded restaurants. He also became the first head chef at Longrain Melbourne for Martin Boetz.
Adam won The Age 2008 Good Food Guide’s Young Chef of the Year and as part of his award travelled to New York to work with Thomas Keller at Per Se, arguably one of America’s best restaurants. Adam has also twice been the Victorian winner in the Lexus Young Chef of the Year award.
In June 2009, Adam opened his highly anticipated restaurant, CODA, in Melbourne’s Flinders Lane (the name was borrowed from the title of Led Zeppelin's 1982 album). Within a year the restaurant was awarded One Chefs’ Hat in The Age Good Food Guide 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
When cooking at CODA, Adam draws inspiration from across the globe, blending Asian and European tastes and techniques. The menu is largely based on the food of Hanoi, in North Vietnam.
When asked what he hoped to achieve at CODA, the words come naturally.
“I wanted to achieve an atmosphere that is relaxed but also serves good food and wine in an unstructured way... CODA is a reflection of my heritage and what I have cooked in the past from all my different influences.”
The formula at CODA isn’t complex, “It is about enhancing seasonal, fresh ingredients. We don’t modify or manipulate it.”
“All our produce is sourced from good suppliers who have free range or organic produce, with the majority of it coming from Victoria.
“Our menu changes seasonally, not only because it tastes better, but it is an economic decision as well. Using seasonal produce is always cheaper.”
When it comes to purchasing food and using the planet’s resources, Adam believes that it is important for people to be more aware of their impact.
An ambassador for Siemans cooking appliances, Adam collaborates on various projects with the company.
Adam is now a regular guest chef at Australia’s best food and wine festivals, and this year hosted Korean American hotel chef turned LA street-food superstar Roy Choi. His support for environmental issues has also seen him appointed as an Ambassador for Earth Hour.
For the 2010 Melbourne Cup Carnival, Adam was commissioned by MYER to design the cuisine for their exclusive birdcage marquee. His zucchini fritters and buffalo mozzarella salad were voted “Best Dish” of the Carnival.
Adam is a regular on Network Tens’s The Circle and Channel 9’s Mornings and made his mark on MasterChef in 2011 as a celebrity chef in the Immunity Challenge. Later this year he will be appearing as a regular chef on Network Ten’s new series of Ready Steady Cook.
As an official international representative of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, in February Adam curated a three-day food and wine festival including Asia's first World's Longest Lunch table event held in Mumbai, India.
In other exciting news, CODA recently announced a second restaurant Tonka will open in early 2013 and will also be based in Melbourne's Flinders Lane.
CODA is located in the basement of 141 Flinders Lane (Corner Oliver Lane), Melbourne.