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Gay Bilson, 2004

by Peter Fisher

colour photograph
Courtesy of Peter Fisher Photography

For several decades, lauded as Australia’s most influential food thinker and practitioner, Gay Bilson moved from Melbourne to Sydney with Tony Bilson and opened Bon Gout in Surry Hills in 1973. When their daughter became ill they moved out of the city finding the rundown café which became the groundbreaking Berowra Waters Inn. In the 1970s when Travel + Leisure listed the 100 best restaurants in the world, there was only one in Australia – Berowra Waters Inn. 30 kms north of Sydney devoted patrons made the pilgrimage until it closed in 1995, Bilson then taking over Bennelong Restaurant at the Sydney Opera House. Berowra Waters Inn was also a training ground, producing among others – Anders Ousback, Sean Moran, Liz Nolan. Bilson now lives in the McLaren Vale district where she writes, gardens and cooks for friends. She recently published Plenty, a collection of essays.

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