“You can’t f–k with the matzo ball soup.” That’s what Adam Wolfers learnt from his grandmother. Etelek, his pop-up restaurant, is inspired by the chef’s Eastern European background. It’s a history that draws on memories of his grandmother tending to six pots on the stove at a time, as well as his grandfather Julius’ time as a concentration camp survivor (an extraordinary tale that’s been documented by Steven Spielberg).
Carrot schnitzel, scallop pretzel puffs and honey cake with wattleseed honeycomb are just a few of things you’ll find at Etelek, which is running at Potts Point until New Year’s Eve. It’s named after the Hungarian word for food and the pop-up has previously travelled to Melbourne and Canberra, and featured locally at Ester, Casoni and The Dolphin, gaining a following for its parsnip schnitzel and amazing langos bread. Even the most anti-carb person will be converted by Adam’s dishes, which has basically served as an atlas of bread from Yemen, Hungary and New York over the years. In fact, he uses a sourdough starter from his time at Monopole and made his name working in other Brent Savage restaurants, such as Bentley and Yellow (Adam helped turn it into a vegetarian hatted restaurant, known for its eggplant steak and pickled kohlrabi and enoki – and it’s unsurprising that Etelek also has brilliant meat-free creations, too, like Adam’s fennel carpaccio with potato crisps, fermented chilli and chickpea mayonnaise).
Adam also talks about his previous life as a jetsetting European handball player (in fact, he had to get his hip replaced after a career-ending injury) and, given the brilliant “everything bagel” that was on his menu, he weighs in on the neverending New York vs Montreal bagel debate, too.
Plus, we chat about coming up through the ranks while mentored by Peter Doyle, Mark Best, Pasi Petanen and Brent Savage; his history with Bar Rochford’s Louis Couttoupes, and whether Adam’s langos bread is like Hungarian pizza.
Make sure to check out Etelek before it winds up its Potts Point pop-up on New Year’s Eve and keep an eye out on Instagram to see what Adam and Marc Dempsey have planned for Etelek in 2019.
You can listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts or download it via RSS or directly. You can also find it on Stitcher and Google Podcasts nowadays. And a big shout-out to everyone who has left a generous review in Apple Podcasts, like Mrs Metri, who ultra-kindly named this podcast as one of her favourites! It’s massively appreciated and means a lot when I’m trying to finish editing this podcast in the early hours of Christmas Eve!
Photography courtesy of Etelek (Jun Chen and Remy Gerega) and Yellow.