Lennox Hastie is fascinated by fire.
He is the chef and owner of Firedoor in Sydney, Australia’s only fully wood fueled restaurant, which offers a dining experience like no other in town.
Born in the United Kingdom to a Scottish mother and an Australian father, Lennox had a structured upbringing at odds with the raw unpredictable nature of fire.
Lennox spent his early career working at Michelin Star restaurants across the UK, France and Spain. Whilst he honed his skills in these kitchens, he began to lose sight of what he loved most about cooking, the ingredient. Having grown captivated by the Basque country, Lennox found himself helping out a local pintxos bar. It was here he overheard a mention of a grill restaurant in the Basque mountains.
After seeking out Etxebarri, a small asador with a strong tradition of wood-fired grilling, Lennox worked with Victor Arguinzoniz, pushing the limits of what could be cooked over an open flame. He was exposed to a form of cooking that was so completely different, beautifully complex, yet simple, one that highlighted ingredients in their most natural state. It was a turning point. What began as one year at Asador Etxebarri soon grew into five.
As it had captivated Lennox, this reinvention of an age-old technique soon attracted international press, and Asador Etxebarri entered the prestigious list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, as well as gaining its first Michelin star.
Returning to Australia in 2011, Lennox was ready for his next challenge. He opened Firedoor in April 2015 in partnership with the Fink Group. The restaurant works instinctively with fire and ingredients with a strong focus on fish and vegetables, whilst cutting a 200-day aged rib of beef to order, that redefines how a steak can and should be cooked. Even the wood is treated as a fundamental seasoning and varied in accordance with the ingredients. Lennox collaborates with producers and suppliers to bring his guests the very best ingredients available on the day.
His unique approach saw Lennox awarded Best New Talent and the restaurant was nominated for Best New Restaurant in the 2016 Australian Gourmet Traveller Awards. Last year, Lennox was awarded Citi Chef of the Year at the National Good Food Awards 2020. The restaurant currently holds two-chef hats in the same guide and sits at number 27 on the Australian Gourmet Traveller Top 100 Restaurants.
Lennox released his first book, Finding Fire in November 2017. The book tells the story of how he learnt the language of fire, as well as sharing more than 80 recipes that celebrate the instinctive, focused cooking of ingredients at their simple best. Alongside Lennox’s journey from the UK to the Basque mountains and ultimately Australia, Finding Fire offers an uncompromising historical, cultural and culinary account of what it means to cook with fire. In a world yearning to re-engage with what makes us human, it reveals how it is possible for all of us to embrace this ancient and revered form of cooking.
“With fire came the first transformation of food intro culture. Lennox Hastie is proof that cooking with fire is so much more than barbeque. It is a primary tool for bringing food culture to the table and making everything, from vegetables to seafood, taste divine.”