If we look back to where we were in our early 20s, it was probably still skiving off our parents' health insurance and taking our washing back home every other weekend because we couldn't afford a washing machine. Charlie Carrington, on the other hand, has opened his own South Yarra restaurant, Atlas Dining — and he's only 22.
Yep, you read that right. You still haven't bought a washing machine and this kid is opening his own restaurant. And if that wasn't work enough already, Carrington will be doing the cooking too. A trained chef, the 22-year-old has earned his stripes in the kitchens of Vue de Monde and Sydney's Firedoor, as well as a slew of international restaurants. His recent travels around the world are what's led to the decision to not tie Atlas Dining to one cuisine. Instead, it changes with the seasons; every four months the menu switches to a completely different country of origin.
The first region Carrington has chosen to tackle is northern Vietnam, honouring dishes from regions like Hanoi and Sapa before moving steadily down the country representing more southern regions as the weather warms up. Carrington picked the Southeast Asian country to kick things off, saying that it felt like a natural fit. "It really worked out well in terms of the fire-cooking we'll be doing," he says.
The connection with fire will see him bring techniques he learnt at Firedoor to the plate — and it sounds like tasty, fiery things are nigh. "We've got the same grills, raising and lowering grills, all the charcoal stuff, and we have a woodfire oven too," says Carrington. So bring your meat belly along.
What comes after Vietnam? Well, he's heading to Israel at the end of the year, so we know what cuisine #2 will be come 2017. Next stop is Korea (North or South not specified, but probably South) for May to August 2017 and the rest of the trip is as yet unplanned. In the meantime, check out Atlas Dining's Vietnamese fare, continue feeling unaccomplished (we are), and heed his advice for young chefs: go and travel. Definitely words to live by — even if you've never cooked a thing in your life.