In the vibrant tapestry of Australia’s culinary scene, Tom Sarafian stands out as a chef who has transformed traditional cooking into an art form. Growing up in a family where food was revered almost religiously, Tom’s journey from a childhood steeped in culinary heritage to becoming one of Australia’s most celebrated chefs is nothing short of inspiring.

Tom’s culinary odyssey began in the renowned kitchen of Melbourne’s Stokehouse Restaurant in 2005. His passion for Middle Eastern cooking truly ignited upon discovering Greg Malouf’s cookbooks, leading him to work alongside Greg at the iconic MoMo. Here, Tom began weaving the rich tapestry of his Armenian-Egyptian heritage with modern culinary finesse.

Seeking broader horizons, Tom ventured to London, honing his skills at the Michelin-starred Petersham Nurseries Cafe and Fergus Henderson’s St John restaurant. Cooking for culinary luminaries like Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson, Tom’s prowess and creativity flourished.

Tom’s journey then took him to the vibrant kitchens of Moro, delving into Levantine and Spanish cuisines. But his exploratory voyage across Spain, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, and Armenia truly expanded his culinary canvas, enriching his repertoire with authentic flavours and techniques from each culture.

Returning to Melbourne, Tom’s first head chef role at Rumi saw him infusing his newfound global insights with local Melbourne flair. His subsequent travels across Iran, Beirut, and Istanbul further refined his culinary identity, culminating in the critically acclaimed launch of Bar Saracen in Melbourne’s CBD. Tom’s unique ability to blend traditional recipes with contemporary twists was celebrated, epitomised by his now-famous hummus topped with king prawn and spanner crab.

Following Bar Saracen’s closure, Tom’s culinary journey continued at Little Andorra and various events nationwide, where he consistently showcases his mastery. This summer, Tom Sarafian brings his culinary artistry to the Avani Winery’s Cellar Door as part of their esteemed pop-up series.

His menu, a harmonious fusion of Lebanese and Iranian influences, is crafted to complement the nuanced flavours of Avani’s wines. Each dish, from the charcoaled calamari with harissa chickpeas to the lamb and koussa kebab and the ethereal Muhullabeya dessert, is curated to align with and enhance the wine profiles on offer. Tom’s creations are more than just food; they are a conversation between plate and glass, showcasing his commitment to culinary excellence and creating a dining experience at Avani that resonates with every sense.

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