IN CONVERSATION WITH:
Rebecca & Al Yazbek
| NOMAD Owners |
To start off the In Conversation With series, who better to sit down with than NOMAD co-owners Rebecca and Al Yazbek. As always, they were refreshingly open and honest about all things NOMAD and the highs and lows they have endured whilst bringing their vision to life.
Bec, Al & NOMAD…where did it all begin?
AY: We met and fell in love over great wine at small producer cellar doors and regional restaurants sourcing spectacular local produce.
RY: The more we travelled around wine country the more we wanted to bring that experience back to the city.
NOMAD, Flinders Lane is finally open! Firstly, how does it feel?
AY: Surreal. When you wait five years for something and finally you glimpse it on the horizon you think it’s a mirage.
The last few years have been a rollercoaster to say the least, how have you navigated through opening and expanding into a new city, whilst keeping NOMAD Sydney and your visions alive?
RY: This is the hardest environment we’ve ever faced for our industry and for us as a company. Space has existed though for planning and to step back and see what we want our business to look like. This is where our latest projects come from! Having a team of people I believe are at the top of their game, enjoying the challenges and creating a dining environment that we’re proud to be apart of and to dine in is what I love.
For a city that hosts some of the most respected restaurants, what do you hope to bring to the Melbourne dining experience?
AY: We’ll just keep doing what we do – local, sustainable, and delicious!
What was the vision for NOMAD Sydney when you first started?
RY: A 30 seat cellar door in the city doing incredible food. Which soon grew to a 200 seat restaurant because we feel in love with the old warehouse space where NOMAD came to life.
AY: I gave it the Lebanese treatment!
Can you tell us more about your appreciation for sustainability and using local produce, has this always been your ethos?
RY: Yes. Local growers have to be passionate about sustainability – it’s what makes their businesses last. This then leads into the exceptional quality and shorter distance their wares have to travel to get to the restaurant and onto the plates of our guests.
Greatest advice you have been given?
RY: “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison
AY: “Nothing’s impossible.” – A wise friend.
At the end of the day what motivates you both to keep creating and showing up each day despite the knock backs?
AY: I love building beautiful spaces for guests to then create moments that will, hopefully, stay with them a lifetime.
RY: I love our business. I love restaurants and I love seeing our team prosper and grow into their positions and move to the next phase in their careers all while creating experiences for our diners from scratch.
You’re hosting a dinner party at your house, what are you serving up food and drink wise?
RY: Champagne followed by Chablis and Gamay! We don’t drink very often so when we do these are the go-to’s. Iggy’s bread, Vanella burrata, Alto olive oil, whole trout and roasted potatoes followed by lashings of Rivereno gelato!
AY: Doing the dishes is where I shine
Favourite dish on the NOMAD menu right now?
RY: Smoked spring bay mussels, piment d’espelette, toum, hash brown.
AY: Vanella burrata, fennel jam, Alto robust olive oil and the za’atar flatbread from our wood fired oven.
What was the last restaurant you went to and any recommendations on some must try dishes?
RY: Firedoor. It seems most people go for the meat but what Lennox does with seafood of all kinds is such a treat.
AY: Aru in Melbourne – order the dry aged duck, but what a cool restaurant.
What do you hope for NOMAD and the hospitality industry in 2022?
RY: NOMAD for 2022- here’s hoping we can resume “normal trade” – from opening hours, to wine dinners, to diners returning to dining out with confidence. For our industry – here’s looking towards a POST pandemic world, this is where I hope we’re moving towards. Sustainable business, work hours, happy customers and supporting local farmers, growers and producers.