Rockpool turns 25

Author: Pat Nourse
Photography: Courtesy Rockpool

What's 25 in restaurant-years? A lifetime? For Rockpool it's been more than a generation, certainly, and Rockpoolers young and old, past and present turned out in force at the Sydney restaurant's Bridge Street home to celebrate with all the vigour and vim you'd expect at a 25th birthday party.

Terry Higgins, one of the restaurant's original managers and now a Rockpool consultant at Qantas, opened the speeches, reminiscing over the magic of wearing Valentino to her first job interview, the glamour of table 29, and the importance of keeping a close eye on the restaurant's Alessi peppermills. She also paid particular tribute to Rockpool co-owner Trish Richards: "She keeps us real, she keeps us centred and she keeps us financially viable."

Richards in turn said that it was humbling and an honour to still be driving for the quality that Neil Perry made their goal on day one. Seeing so many friends in the room "makes me melt", she said. "I feel so grateful."

When Perry took the mic, it was to thank the restaurant's staff. "All I've written down here is 'passion, passion, passion'."

There was plenty of that in evidence in the drinks and canapés served in thoroughly generous quantities, Gosset and Grosset, oysters and jamón, tiny burgers and dangerously delicious caviar and cauliflower tartlets.

The room was packed with all manner of Rockpool alumni, from former Perry lieutenants Kylie Kwong, Ross Lusted and Angel Fernandez to the likes of current Rockpool chef Phil Wood, Nomad's Nathan Sasi and Nic Wong of Cho Cho San. Rockpool regulars and other supporters made up the rest of the throng, chef Maggie Beer, designer Peter Morrissey, OzHarvest's Ronni Kahn, Rolando Schirato from Vittoria Coffee and Qantas's Alan Joyce among them. Neil Perry's old friend and new neighbour Barry McDonald then threw his doors open downstairs at Fratelli Fresh for jitterbugging well into the night. "The old legs haven't danced that much for a good while," said Perry.

We'd like to congratulate the Rockpool team on the milestone and we look forward to the 50th.

Rockpool, 11 Bridge St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9252 1888

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