It’s no accident that Adam D’Sylva has become one of the most talked about chefs in town. Adam has built himself an enviable culinary reputation as part owner and head chef of CODA and the brand new TONKA, two of Melbourne’s hottest bars and restaurants.
Cooking for Adam began as a child growing up in a mixed Indian/Italian family where his mother was a major influence on his decision to follow his passion for cooking. “I fell in love with food from an early age. My nonna and aunty looked after us when we were young and always let us cook and eat with them,” explains Adam.
Adam’s apprenticeship began at Hilton on the Park in Melbourne before working as a chef at the popular celebrity haunt Cosi, in South Yarra. He then explored his love for quality food, travelling through Europe and Asia, working in restaurants in the Marche region of Italy and Hong Kong.
Returning to Australia, Adam went on to work as head chef under the much awarded and respected Geoff Lindsay at Pearl, one of Melbourne’s most highly regarded restaurants. He also became the first head chef at Longrain in Melbourne.
Adam won The Age 2008 Good Food Guide’s Young Chef of the Year award and as part of this he travelled to New York to work with Thomas Keller at Per Se, arguably one of America’s best restaurants. Adam has also twice been the Victorian winner in the Lexus Young Chef of the Year award.
Adam is a celebrity chef on Channel 9’s Mornings and features regularly on popular shows MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook.
￼￼In June 2009, Adam opened his highly anticipated first restaurant, CODA, in Melbourne’s Flinders Lane (the name was borrowed from the title of Led Zeppelin's 1982 album). Within a year the restaurant was awarded One Chefs’Hat in The Age Good Food Guide 2010 and 2011.
When cooking at CODA, Adam draws inspiration from across the globe, blending Asian and European tastes and techniques. The menu is largely based on the food of Hanoi, in North Vietnam. More recently in March 2013, Adam teamed up again with the award-winning team behind CODA and opened new bar and restaurant TONKA, on the former site of iconic nightclub Honky Tonks on 20 Duckboard Place. TONKA explores the wonderful world of the Orient, where inspiration from the Indian blue city of Jodhpur is used for the aesthetic and culinary concept behind the 100-seat eatery.
Adam and Head Chef Michael Smith take reign in the kitchen, while Travis Howe, 2013 The Age Good Food Guide Sommelier of the Year, delivers an accessible wine list crafted around a modern Indian inspired menu.
Like CODA, TONKA’s menu is designed with a passion for enhancing seasonal, fresh ingredients in a modern and accessible way. The tantalizing dishes explore Indian techniques and flavours with tandoori meats, fish and sweet delights including Punjabi masala lamb cutlets, Goan fish curry and Coconut rice pudding with mango sorbet, pineapple chiboust and shortbread.
Adam is a regular guest chef at some of Australia’s best food and wine festivals and this year is involved in the Home Chef Competition, where he will mentor contestants who are all vying for the crown of Best Home Chef.