Elijah Holland, ex-Noma Australia chef de partie and forager, will head up a new restaurant in China’s Guangdong Province. The Locksmith, which is located in the area of Foshan, is set to open on 3 March.
“It’s really cool because the owners, Mr. Harry Erez Shahak [owner Lm, in Melbourne] and Neo Leung said to me to make a list of anything I wanted, for kitchen equipment and the whole concept, and they’ve been able to make it all happen,” Holland told Hospitality. “So we’ll be making everything in-house – vinegars, charcuterie, butter, bread – literally everything under the sun.”
The result is a three level venue with a rooftop featuring approximately 100 garden beds, where herbs, vegetables and other produce will be cared for by Holland and his kitchen team, while a team of gardeners will maintain edible gardens across all floors.The rooftop garden will house compost bins, helping to turn food waste into fertiliser.
“The bottom floor is a restaurant and bar. It’s a nice big area with a massive kitchen, including a Josper charcoal oven – like the one we had at Noma but bigger – barbeques and a baker’s oven. The middle level will be a cocktail bar and lounge. The drinks list will be looked after by Ariel Leizgold, who’s one of the world’s top bartenders,” said Holland.
“The food will be Modern Australian with a Mediterranean influence, like the stuff I grew up cooking with my grandparents and parents. It’s stuff that hasn’t been seen in China, but served in the style they eat here; so a lot of sharing and snacks, with dishes coming from the barbecue and grill, and live seafood.
“I’ll be getting fresh seafood every day from a one of the biggest seafood markets in South China, which is about 25 minutes away, and we’ll have a couple of tanks on the middle floor to keep everything alive.
“The menu is heavily influenced by what we can do over the barbecue and smoke inside the Josper [and] we’ve got fridges being built to dry-age meats and make things for charcuterie.”
The top floor is reserved for private dining and special events with plans to bring chefs from all over the world to the restaurant.
“I’ve been speaking to chefs from Australia, America, France and some of the guys from Noma are hopefully coming to do a pop-up, as well as the head chef from Nordic Food Lab in Denmark. We’re calling it the Secret Garden and it’s where we’ll be doing a lot of cool, different foraged dinners and special events. There’s no set menu, it’ll just be events, private dinners, and we’ll bring local cooking schools and others in for educational shows, talks, demonstrations and tours,” said Holland.
Anything that doesn’t come from the venue’s gardens will be sourced from local farms or foraged from the surrounding region, with Holland impressed by his finds.
“Some of the things you can get here are incredible and really amazing quality. So many people told me I would never find anything in China but I’ve been doing a lot of foraging out in the mountains and finding so much,” he said.
“At first I thought about importing things from Australia, like beef, but I’ve been to goose farms, duck farms, water buffalo farms, and I’ll be able to get camel and donkey, so I’m going to just use local and wild produce.”
The Locksmith has been designed by Melbourne-based design company Studio Y. Headed by lead designer and director of Studio Y, Yaron Kanor, the team has created a multi-level restaurant inspired by classic European designs.
“The name itself inspires mystery and curiosity, and you’re certain that you’re entering something quite awe-inspiring and unexpected,” said Sophie Metcalfe, interior designer at Studio Y.
“All three levels play a part in making the overall concept. In the grand sense it’s an abandoned European mansion, sophisticated and opulent as you enter from the ground floor. As you make your way upwards the interior’s personality starts to change. It becomes saturated in colours, fixtures and eclectic props. Everything from the music to the staff uniform, the door knobs and the light fixtures all have a role to play.”
Visualisations of The Locksmith designed by Studio Y.