Neil Perry loves Wollongong so much he could not have talked it up any more on Thursday after spending two days in the city for the opening of the new David Jones Food Hall.
Perry arrived a day early to help his team prepare for what he described as the only Neil Perry restaurant outside a major city in Australia.
He not only wanted to prepare the people working in the David Jones Food Hall he described as good as anything in the world.
He wanted to take in the city and surrounds he loves.
On Wednesday night he even took time out to dine at Babyface restaurant.
He was also hoping to catch up with Lorenzo who he met when he worked in Sydney many years ago.
“He is a fantastic old mate. He cooked in one of the best restaurants in Sydney a lot of years ago. And he has one of the very best restaurants in Wollongong. I had a great dinner at Babyface which is a fantastic local restaurant,” he said.
Perry also enjoyed the scenery.
“I took the coast road down yesterday to see the most beautiful vistas in the most beautiful city. And now you have got the most beautiful department store. And the most beautiful Neil Perry restaurant. I am very proud of being involved in David Jones”.
Perry said the business journey the department store is on perfectly matches that of Rockpool.
And he loves the commitment David Jones has given to food and the roll out of a new $100 million food concept across the nation.
“We have got more than just a partnership in food. But a partnership Australia and a partnership in the way that we go about the lives and the people who work for us and that is very important to me.”
Perry said he was really proud that the Illawarra as a regional centre was getting everything the city of Sydney is getting.
He said the new food hall is fantastic and on par with the David Jones Food Hall at Bondi.
“I was so excited to get in there and see it. One of the things I am most proud of is that you guys probably don’t know this. That (the Wollongong food hall) is the only Neil Perry restaurant outside of a major city in Australia. And the first one goes to the most important regional city..which is Wollongong. It makes me very proud to be able to come down here.”
Perry said he trained a team of people in Bondi to work at the Wollongong food hall. He said they were so excited and it was great to see the smiles on their faces as they finally got to do their thing on such a very busy day. He said the response from people in Wollongong was “terrific seeing the store really crowded” on the first day.
“I think during the next few weeks Wollongong is going to get down and are going to have a look at what David Jones are doing, especially in food. And I think they are going to fall in love with it. This is just as good as Bondi and that is the great flagship store. And we think it is one of the best food stores in the world”.