2Gather Lab - David & Jay

Jay Elbrihi and David Aznar are young, focused masters of creativity, bringing progressive dining along the east coast of Australia.

01 - Can you tell me a bit about yourselves?

DAVID: I moved out of France when I was 18 years old and came to Australia to surf. About six years ago I became passionate about fermentation and foraging. I’ve always been close to nature, when I was a kid, my nickname was Mowgli from the jungle book because I always skipped school and went out in the bush or by the ocean. I started working in restaurants, tried to connect my love for food and nature, and that’s how we started foraging. I think my love for food, comes from my Grandmum, she is amazing in the kitchen and she would cook for 30 people. The door to our house would always be open to everyone.

JAY: I grew up in Sydney. After finishing school, I got into UNSW to do a degree of engineering and architecture, I hated it. Instead of doing my uni assignments I would procrastinate watching cooking videos on YouTube, basically I taught myself to cook that way.

I decided I should have some sort of certificate or training, so I went to cooking college for a year and got a job in a restaurant, Izukiya Fujiama in Surry Hills. My next job, was at Tetsuya’s. That was a much harder kitchen. It was like the military, extremely disciplined, I was there for a year before I moved to Quay. After four years I decided to make a change and move up here, because most of the produce we were using at Quay or any of the other restaurants I was working at, was not coming from Sydney, it was coming from up here.

DAVID: Our goal is to have a restaurant that is not a restaurant, kind of relates to our family, that feeling of being at home, comfort. We’ve discussed having some sort of studio space, that’s adaptable, that doesn’t have fixed sittings, so you can move things around, you know spaces to display art.

02 - What is in your bag today?

DAVID: What is in the bag today is what I would take to a French picnic, so we have some wine, some butter, bread, usually we have some oysters and pâté.

JAY: What we forage.

02 - Where is your favourite place to go every day?

DAVID: Well if it’s not for food, the rainforest. Every time I go there I can feel really small, I loose all the ego and the bullshit, like from society, you feel so small, you lose control.

03 - If you could carry someone around with you in your bag, who would it be? And why?

DAVID: If I could carry someone around with me it would be my grandmother. She is the strongest person I know. Thinking of her always give me the power or the energy I need. I would say Jay, but I already have him in the bag every day.

JAY: Ratatouille, who wouldn’t want a pet mouse to teach you
how to cook. I think we would be great friends, I would take him everywhere in the bag.

JAY: We’re haven’t spent more than a day away from one another for the last two months, or three months. And we are still friends. Our relationship has definitely been tested a lot in the last few months. So many decisions, and we have a really different way of dealing with things. We definitely balance one another out. And I can’t imagine doing this with anybody else. He’s so talented and I don’t think there’s many people in the country doing what he does with cocktails.

04 - What's your baggage?

JAY: I have always felt like an outsider, the black sheep in my family. Growing up in Australia and having immigrant parents, I’ve always felt like I’ve lived in two worlds, or between two worlds, where I’m not quite Australian enough, but not quite Syrian enough either. Also not feeling like one of the boys, but not quite feeling like one of the girls.

DAVID: Something that has been affecting me that I have been carrying around with me since forever is my ADHD and autism, and it’s pretty recent I have been able to talk about. It’s something that can also be really helpful but it’s also something I can struggle with, so I am learning how to deal with it.

See more on David, Jay and 2Gather Lab.