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OP: Sepia

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by Martin Benn

Murdoch Books, 2014. Hardcover. Near Fine. First printing.

Sydney’s Sepia was one of Australia’s most highly regarded dining establishments until its closure in 2018. Its chef and co-owner, Martin Benn—having previously worked under Michel Lorain, Marco Pierre White, and Tetsuya Wakuda—had firmly established credentials. During Sepia’s nine-year run, Benn increasingly found his own clear vision, and the restaurant served as a model of fresh thinking. 

At first glance, the restaurant’s 2014 cookbook primarily shows the influence of Japanese cuisine. Dashi, wasabi, seaweed, and raw fish turn up regularly, and the simplicity and delicacy of the plating is reminiscent of the kaiseki style. However, on looking further, we encounter an array of international influences, revealing Sepia’s style as a highly imaginative integration, which seems to meld elements from Spanish and Nordic cooking as well, not to mention native ingredients from Australian and New Zealand. The results turn out to be both original and compelling.

Some exemplary courses include: 

  • Sashimi of yellowfin tuna with Iberico ham, quail egg, white soy and dashi jelly, and wasabi powder
  • Garrotxa with goat’s cheese and sake dumplings, truffle, celeriac cream, and nashi pear
  • King George whiting with truffle jelly, water chestnut, nameko mushrooms, and pea sprouts
  • Lemon leaf ice cream and yuzu shu meringue with candied lemon aspen, and fennel pollen

Jennifer Soo’s astonishing food photography—expertly playing with light, shadow, reflection, and aperture—is truly an asset to Benn’s smart and clever plating.

Since it was never published in the United States, finding copies of Sepia here is uncommon. We are pleased to be able to offer a first printing, Near Fine. 

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