A Yorkshireman is refashioning the Paddo Inn into a pub of substance

Mark Holland is head chef at the Paddo Inn on Oxford Street, overseeing a menu of upmarket pub classics.

Mark, there have been many changes at the Paddo Inn in the past few years. Can you explain where the menu is at now?

Paddo Inn has had a couple of refurbs in recent years and the first time around they didn’t really hit the mark with the style of food or experience. So, they drew it back, simplified the food, made the décor warmer with a bistro feel to it and now it really works. We keep the menu produce-driven, served as simply as possible to showcase the quality seasonal ingredients. It sounds cheesy but the chefs we have at the Paddo are really passionate about the food and treat it with a lot of love and care, and for me that shows on the plate.

You hail from Yorkshire, so you must find Sydney quite a culture shock, food wise. What are the main differences between Australian and British food?

I think the main difference is the abundance of brilliant seasonal fresh produce here in Oz. Having said that, the British food scene — particularly in London — has come a long way, with a fusion of many cultures and styles of cooking. I feel a lot of people associate Australian food with being light and fresh and British food as heavy, hearty dishes. I think that’s relevant to the weather. I try and capture a mix of the two at the Paddo.

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What makes a great pub dining experience for you?

A great pub should have a relaxed and buzzing atmosphere, filled with happy locals. For me, the food and service should match the environment, it shouldn’t be stuffy, but the food should be done with amazing produce served simply. What I like to have when pub dining is a broad range from a good-quality fish and chips, or an amazing eye filet with red wine jus and mash.

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How do you find the East?

I’ve fallen in love with the East. Since arriving in Australia I’ve been fortunate to live in Bondi and now Paddington. My little home town in Yorkshire has a village feeling to it so I feel right at home living and working in Paddo. You’ll be able to find me on most days walking around Centennial Park with my baby daughter strapped to my chest. We are lucky to have an amazing selection of cafes, pubs and restaurants on our doorstep so some delicious coffee or dinner is never hard to find.