Chef Peter Doyle, realising that the old-style formality was out-of-step with the times, transformed Sydney institution Le Trianon into Cicada. It marked a move from traditional French-influenced cooking to a modern Australian style. Dishes included: roasted beetroot, blood orange, red witlof and asparagus; and slow-cooked beef cheeks with celeriac and field mushrooms.
Peter Doyle is sometimes referred to as the “founding father of contemporary Australian cuisine” and was among the first group of celebrity chefs transforming restaurant eating in Sydney. His first restaurant, Turrets, was in an inner-city hotel. In 1982 he moved on to open Reflections at Sydney’s trendy Palm Beach, where the food was influenced by nouvelle cuisine. In 1984 the restaurant was awarded three hats in the first Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.
In the mid-80s, Doyle moved on to Le Trianon in Potts Point. Le Trianon served French food in the grand style and was defined by David Dale as an “elegant temple was where rich men took easy women for dishes swimming in cream and brandy”. In 1994, Doyle re-invented it as Cicada. In an interview with Gourmet Traveller, he described the new style:
Cicada, on the other hand, was a return to a more relaxed attitude to dining with fine food. It was fun; “it felt like a party every night,” as one customer put it. The edgy Luigi Rosselli design was light and bright, and we had a vibrant crew of young professional waiters with personality, including our eldest daughter, Renee, who engaged the customers. The cuisine was very influenced by the Mediterranean, with a focus on fresh flavours and solid technique. It spoke of the time.
In 2003 Peter Doyle joined the Merivale group at .est. In 2018 he stepped away from his chef’s role to head up the new Merivale Apprenticeship School. The first intake for the school was in early 2019.