We chat to Executive Chef Brent Morely on how he’s made Alibi one of Sydney’s favourite haunts for both vegans and carnivores.
If you’re not from Sydney, or if you’ve been living under a rock, you might not have heard about Ovolo Woolloomooloo’s standout vegan restaurant, Alibi Bar & Kitchen. With its quirky and contemporary design and prime waterfront position in one of Sydney’s best-loved dining precincts, Alibi is well-loved by Sydney’s vegan community – and that’s even before we start talking about the food.
Alibi is a favourite for vegans in Sydney, but non-vegans love it, too. What do you think it is that gives it such appeal?
Aside from fact that Alibi is simply a really cool venue, what we create is a fulfilling and flavourful offering of curious and contemporary plant-based cuisine. Once you get non-vegans through the door and past the stigma of ‘plant-based’ to just mean salads, they are really quick to realise this. With such an impact, people don’t miss the animal products they would otherwise associate as being required to have a satisfying and hearty meal.
Aside from the food, what else does the restaurant do to be more sustainable?
Partnering with our fruit and vegetable supplier, we work with the freshest locally sourced produce in support of local and sustainable farmers. Also, our micro herbs are sourced from Urban Green, Sydney’s first commercial indoor farm. Urban Green is trying to find a solution to the problem that soon almost 70 % of people will be living in towns and cities and it will become increasingly difficult to grow enough food to sustain these huge urban populations. By supporting them, we hope to be part of the solution.
We also work with ORCA to provide a solution to the problem of food waste. Instead of using conventional bins which are collected by trucks, the ORCA food waste system mimics the human body’s food digestion system and reduces food waste to liquid which can then be filtered through our plumbing system.
How have you weaved parts of Australia’s indigenous culture into the menu and restaurant?
While our offering follows the food philosophy of our Creative Culinary Partner, Matthew Kenney, our menu is created and inspired from seasonal and locally sourced produce. Naturally being an Australian restaurant, this sees indigenous Australian ingredients, like pepperberry and sea herbs, used throughout the year.
Ovolo Hotels announced last year that they would be completely vegetarian. Do you think more hotels will make this decision?
The hotel industry is one generally led by more traditional notions, and unfortunately this is no more so obvious than in their food and beverage offerings, which are rarely ever reflective of changing consumers needs and rising interests. Ovolo Hotels, motivated by offering an effortless and effervescent experience for each guest, really put an emphasis on the food and beverage offering of each of their restaurants and bars across the group. But, that’s not the case for most hotel groups, so I think it will be a long time before others follow suit.
What’s your favourite vegan dish to cook at home?
Some mightn’t acknowledge it as a ‘dish’, but I love playing with bread. Sourdoughs are great. Once you have perfected the base recipe, you can pretty much play with whatever flavours you want to make an amazing loaf.
Brent Morely is Executive Chef at Alibi Bar & Kitchen in Sydney.