Mark Best, Khanh Nguyen, Dave Verheul 2023 AALIA Chef Series

Rebecca Varidel
20th Jul 2023

AALIA Hosts 2023 Collaborative Chef Dinner Series with Mark Best, Khanh Nguyen and Dave Verheul

AALIA continues to introduce a new perspective on Middle Eastern cuisine, today announcing their 2023 Chef Series with esteemed chefs; Mark Best (24 July), Khanh Nguyen (11 September), and Dave Verheul (9 October).

The first chef to join forces with Executive Chef Paul Farag is culinary genius Mark Best for one night only (Monday 24 July). Together, they will push the boundaries of Middle Eastern cuisine with their innovative approach, complementing AALIA's ethos.

Mark Best, a legend of Australian cuisine, focuses on flavour with technology at the service of the ingredient. With his imaginative take on Australian cooking, combined with a passion for French food and European techniques, guests can expect an odyssey that is both stirring and unforgettable.

The menu boasts a combination of one off experimental dishes, including Mark's European carp makanek with harissa, and a magra lamb rack with dried quince. Sides will include creamed spinach with spiced chickpeas and burnt onions, and end the evening with a sweet walnut sujuk with dulce chocolate and lime-cured pumpkin.

After a successful collaboration at Tasting Australia, the opportunity to work with Mark Best again was a natural choice for AALIA. “Our commitment to expanding our horizons remains unwavering as we forge ahead with our chef series at AALIA. Guests can expect an unforgettable experience that will challenge expectations as Mark and I join forces to bring out a different side of AALIA, like never seen before” exclaims AALIA Executive Chef, Paul Farag.

“The AALIA Collaborative Chef Dinner Series aims to showcase the innovative take on Middle Eastern cuisine, combined with my creative cooking style and commitment to sustainability. Paul and I will use ingredients that are a bit of a legacy project; the European carp overpopulated in the Murray River will be used for the traditional Lebanese makanek and incorporate it into our creations. We hope to present a unique interpretation of Middle Eastern flavours” adds Chef Mark Best.

"To complement the collaboration, ESCA Group Wine Manager Eleonore Wulf has curated a bespoke $80 wine pairing for the night. The wines on offer take you on a journey through the Levantine coastline, highlighting indigenous white varieties such as Obeidi and Merweh, as well as more familiar noble grapes from renowned Bekaa Valley Chateau's."

Next in the line-up is Melbourne chef Khanh Nguyen (Monday 11 September). Working previously for prestigious restaurants across the country, Khanh brings a harmonious blend of fine dining with South East Asian influences. The third and final chef in the series, Dave Verhuel (Monday 9 October). Dave made a name for himself with his Melbourne restaurants, Lesa and Embla, known for his simple yet elevated technique in the culinary world.

AALIA introduces a new perspective on Middle Eastern cuisine unlike any other restaurant in the world. Its interior organically emerges from Harry Seidler’s original iconic MLC architecture. Our ambition realised in a space and experience that fluidly blends the past with the now, the interior with the exterior. Sculptural architectural features, tactile materials and furnishings are used in perfect synergy to create intimate and relaxing spaces. 

The culinary team led by Executive Chef Paul Farag have spent years exploring dishes and techniques from lesser-known regions and coastlines of the Middle East and North Africa. They discovered forgotten ingredients from millennia ago and uncovered recipes from within the pages of 10th century Arabic cookbooks.

Discard your assumptions at the door. Embrace the unexplored and reimagine the possibilities of Middle Eastern cuisine.