Adam D’Sylva, now established as one of Australia’s most prominent chefs, credits his success to his time spent as executive chef of Coda and Tonka restaurants. These two venues, now intrinsic to Melbourne’s culinary scene, have been awarded and maintained One Chef’s Hat in The Age Good Food Guide since their inception.
Adam’s interest in cooking 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,” notes Adam.
Many years ago Adam began his apprenticeship at the Hilton on the Park in Melbourne before working as a chef at Cosi, in South Yarra. After his time there he explored his love of food, travelling through Europe and Asia and working in restaurants in the Marche region of Italy and Hong Kong. Returning to Australia, Adam then went on to work as head chef at Pearl and afterwards as head chef at Longrain in Melbourne.
June 2009 saw the opening of Coda in Melbourne’s Flinders Lane with Adam’s partners Mykal and Kate Bartholomew. Coda’s menu draws inspiration from across the globe, blending Asian and European tastes and techniques.
When describing Coda Adam says “I wanted to achieve an atmosphere that is relaxed but also serves good food and wine in an unstructured way… Coda is a reflection of my heritage and what I have cooked in the past, a celebration of all my influences.”
The formula at Coda isn’t complex, “It’s about enhancing seasonal, fresh ingredients. We don’t modify or manipulate it. All our produce is sourced from good suppliers who have free range or organic produce. The majority of it comes from Victoria. “
In 2013 the trio opened Tonka on the former site of iconic nightclub Honky Tonks at 20 Duckboard Place. Like Coda, Tonka’s menu is designed with a passion for enhancing seasonal ingredients in a modern and accessible way. Though at Tonka Adam looks more to his paternal heritage and celebrates the vibrancy of Indian techniques and flavours.
Adam loves working in Melbourne’s CBD and feels fortunate to have witnessed the change in the culinary landscape since Coda first opened. With two restaurant’s right in the middle of the golden mile Adam’s cooking has become an integral part of the cosmopolitan Melbourne dining scene.
With expert television appearances on all of Australia’s major networks and a regular presence at Australia’s best food and wine festivals, Adam has rightfully secured his place amongst the heavy hitters of Australia’s internationally recognised dining scene.