Nathan Sasi was always destined to be a high flyer. He left school with dreams of becoming an aeronautical engineer, hitting the books at Sydney University. Yet his thoughts kept returning to the happiest memories of his childhood, watching his Hungarian-immigrant father transforming meat into delicious smallgoods, and he soon quit the classroom for the kitchen.
Stints under celebrity chef Neil Perry at Rockpool, Peter Doyle at Est and solo at Alira gave Nathan the grounding to try his hand overseas. His CV expanded to include some of the world’s top restaurants, among them Sean Brock’s Husk in South Carolina, Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner by Heston and Sam and Samantha Clark’s Moro in London. Time spent living in Barcelona and Majorca and extensive travels through the Middle East, North Africa and southern Spain also honed his skills and palate, as he found a deep affinity with the cuisines of Spain and the Mediterranean.
On his return, Nathan was snapped up to head the kitchen at Nomad, swiftly winning a toque in the coveted Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. It was at Nomad that Nathan truly realised his passion for making everything from scratch, the way his father had done: pickling, curing, smoking, drying, fermenting, cheese making and whole-animal butchery became his signature.
When he departed the Nomad kitchen, Nathan spent a solid year still elbow-deep in smallgoods, cheeses and preserves, stocking the larder of his next venture. In April 2016 he launched Mercado, a Moorish-Spanish influenced restaurant embracing the same DIY and nose-to-tail ethos. His first venture as not only executive chef but partner in the business, Mercado also won a Good Food Guide toque.
As a side project in his “spare time”, Nathan and his wife, Sali Sasi, opened Good Times Artisan Ice Cream in Potts Point – just two months before the Mercado launch. Their winning soft-serve formula had queues forming around the block and saw the business swiftly snapped up.
While Mercado focuses on forgotten, traditional skills, Nathan also sees himself as something of a renaissance man. He featured in the Lynx Expressions Find Your Magic Collection campaign, championing his distinctive retro fashion style. He’s also in high demand for public appearances, event and demonstrations, including Taste of Sydney and Taste of Dubai.
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