Eat: Ricardo Dias Ferreira, Altitude Restaurant

If there was ever a time to justify a dinner which could cover a weeks worth of rent on your entry level salary, well travelling would have to be it. I mean we justify everything else when romancing a new city after all. We liken it to the honeymoon phase of a new relationship. That $8 coffee is worth every drop because Riccardo Tisci was once spotted there, that $3K Celine bag is really a bargain because you avoid the TAX on imports and fine dining, well I mean it comes with the package really. You need to show off your new purchases after all. It’s like the logical part of our 20 something-year-old brain checks out the moment we check in and while we know that one day we will be able to indulge without blinking… well… who has the patience to wait for that one day to come. So the pressure to pick the perfect spot is always on. Do you go for the million dollar view, or the Michelin starred hero you read about on the plane over? Well kids, when it comes to Sydney, a dining experience exists that delivers on all fronts in a spectacular fashion which will leave you with the most decadent taste of Sydney when you leave.

Perched on the 36th floor of the luxurious Shangri-La Hotel, Altitude restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of Sydney Harbour like no other. With an award-winning menu to match, it is the fine dining experience that delivers on all fronts. Heralded by Ricardo Dias Ferreira, the Altitude menu pays homage to the best seasonal produce Australia has to offer, with each creation engaging natural flavours by ensuring the garnishes on the plate are linked to the life cycle of the main proteins on the menu. Let’s call it the science of ensuring your palate experiences Christmas morning with every bite. When the head chef has honed his craft at Michelin starred restaurants at the mecca of fine dining, San Sebastian, well you wouldn’t expect anything less really.

Here we spoke to the man behind the magic about that Altitude experience…

Restaurant: Altitude Restaurant – Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

Time spent here: 4 months

I moved here because: I wanted to take the next step in my career and be able to apply my hard earned skills

The best part of working here is… my team and how we work together. We share the same passion for food and for this industry

My career began… as soon as I learned how to fry my first egg

My passion for food came from… my culture. I’m Portuguese and I’m proud to be. We love food – and because my family traditionally loves it as well, I think it’s in my blood.

My signature dish is… I don’t have one. All the food we do in Altitude tells a story of history and culture from different parts of the world, using native Australian produce. That makes me proud. We incorporate European flavors made from local, native ingredients – that’s the essence of Modern Australian cuisine

Career highlight to date… every day when I put on my chef jacket!

I have always looked up to… the future, and learning from the past

I find inspiration in… everything! Different colours, different textures, sometimes we find inspiration in situations we are not expecting, don’t we…

Outside of work, my favorite restaurant is… that’s a secret.

On Altitude…. 

First things first, let’s talk about that view… majestic!

The Altitude food philosophy is… it’s been changing since I arrived. We’ve incorporated native and local ingredients in an internationally influenced and gastronomic way.

Most popular dish: Macleay Valley suckling pig with sweet potato, chestnuts, macadamia and wild mushrooms

Personal favourite: the soft shell crab tempura with saffron risotto, lobster sauce, and salmon roe

For the vegetarians there is… a la carte dishes as well as a vegetarian tasting menu

Our wines are… from all over the world, but with an excellent range of Australian wine

Most decadent dessert: in my personal opinion I love the honeycomb dessert with dark chocolate mousse, black pepper honeycomb, and hazelnuts

What makes the dining experience unique? The view of course (it’s one of the best in the world), but the food and the service is second to none.

Talk us through the influences behind the current menu: we have eight different nationalities in our team, so I try to represent our communities and our cultures while using locally sourced ingredients. Building on top of the Modern Australian foundation and adding different cultures – it’s very distinctive

You can’t leave without trying… the beef ox tail

Best time to visit: if you want to take your time and come for a leisurely meal, during the week is the best time, but every day it’s a good day to come

Dress code: smart casual

The ambiance is…  fine dining and romantic

What’s next? Who knows…. Every day we are improving something in the kitchen, you will know soon.