It’s about that time where the air becomes pollinated and oh so sweet smelling. It’s only natural that we want to venture out into the great outdoors (in this case, Sydney) and reward ourselves with some well-earned vitamin D. Seasonal depression and gloom be gone. Held in the heart of the wonderful Paddington, William Street Festival is back for its 10th year providing us with food, fashion, delicious drinks and community on Saturday, October 20. Is this a perfect excuse to have a diet cheat day and day drink like you’re a first-year uni student? Well, yes. Of course, the festival would be nothing without committed restaurants and their fabulous, committed teams doing the hard years. They deserve a shout out.
So, put on your best attitude and bring your doggo because here are the good people to eat, meet and drink with at Sydney’s beloved William Street Festival.
Luca Giordano, 10 William Street, Paddington
Restaurant manager Luca and the team at 10 William Street have been serving mouth watering food for the past 10 years, opening their store in, you guessed it, 2010 (math, amirite?) And who can blame them for wanting in on the festival antics? Especially because they’re right in the thick of it.
“For us the local community has been a critical part of our success. It’s a way to celebrate with everyone and feel connected with our people.”
Luca believes there is a special air about the street come festival time, but ultimately what makes it special are the diversity of retailers coming together.
“Our staff bring the humour, energy and vibes.” It’s safe to say I’ll be dropping in here, it sounds like they’d be stellar at banter. Over the past few years, Luca has fond memories of the annual festival. Particularly involving the “litres and litres of spritz’s served by the masters.” You can guarantee I’ll be wanting a jug of that stuff, especially if the warm weather gods shine upon us all. The drinks and dishes are flavour filled. Add in a bit of music and ambiance and it’s an experience in itself. There are a few particulars that you just cannot say no to. “Our signature negroni, our panino and tunes from the balcony.” Simple, but bloody effective.
Daphne Soh, Paella del Mar
As soon as I saw the word Paella I got excited. For the second year, Daphne and her team at Paella del Mar will be responsible for bringing the ultimate joy to those who walk the William Street Festival. “There’s something liberating about festivals, a tribal feel when people come together to feel alive and let go of their inhibitions. We just love the energy and atmosphere that everyone has to offer.”
As their business progressed beyond Bondi Beach, they always knew the festival was unique, honing in on close community spirit, entrepreneurship and talent. Patrons at last year’s festival indulged in rosè, munched on their Paella with a twist and grooved to old-school tunes. And, if that’s not the cutest thing you’ve ever heard, you’re lying.
“We really enjoyed ourselves last year. There were some real busy times, but you work hard and play hard. I remember around lunch time looking at the line of customers and thought ‘this is crazy, it’s 10 metres long’. But then I watched my team focus on delivering every dish with love and care. Knowing that our customers walked away with a happy belly makes the moment super special.”
In amongst the hustle of the festival, there are definitely ‘must haves’ you need to seek out from your gal, Daphne. “We will be showcasing Paella Malay with 16hr Slow Cooked Beef Rendang, a coconut and lemongrass infusion and brown rice topped with toasted (and drizzled) coconut.” I’m sure as hell not mad about any of this taking place. There are eight handcrafted flavours that make up the menu for this year’s festival. Get your clams around it.
Filippo And Simone Franchi, Italian Bar
Filippo and Simone Franchi, brother duo and co-directors of the Italian Bar, are seasoned pros when it comes to the festival, remaining steadfast on attendance for the past four years (and counting). “We want to be part of it as we think it is the best social event in the neighbourhood.” With copious amounts of people, no traffic and by extension, not having to park (seriously, what a dream), the brothers believe that this is all part of what makes this event a proper street Festival.
For those of you who were wondering what Italian Bar does, it’s predominantly pizza (give it to me.) But mah lawd, does it look bloody good. “On the festival, the pizzas get cooked in our wood fired portable oven, and people love it. We also play music all day to create the atmosphere around our stall.” Amazing. My lactose intolerant self will eat all of it. One of the best memories they both hold about the festival, is being able to showcase their product for their followers, both new and regular in a different environment. And what of the festival antics they’ll be getting up to? It seems the brother’s festival life will revolve around procuring an endless supply of pizzas. Yes, I’m going to invite myself to take part in this.
Natasha Stanley, The London Hotel
The London Hotel has been on William street for a almost a whopping 150 years having opened in 1875, and Natasha is the proud owner of this beauty. Taking part in the William Street Festival was obviously considered a no brainer, as there were many things that personally drew her in.
“It’s in the spirit of Paddington where I also used to live many moons ago. I love the village atmosphere and the old Sydney Town feel of the beautiful terraces not to mention my beautiful pub.”
Combining food, the vibrant street vibe, music and the community is what Natasha thinks makes this festival so special year in and year out. If you’ve had a few too many cocktails and are keen to flail your arms about, The London has got your back, “We now have a DJ all afternoon which gets everyone dancing in the street.” People always look at me with concern when I start dancing in the street (and in grocery stores.. and clothes stores), so here is my chance. Natasha sounds like she’ll be joining me. “I plan on enjoying the sunshine out the front of The London talking with friends and neighbours all day having a little dance while sipping Pimms.” These guys also offer a smoked wagyu brisket roll, which sounds like the perfect thing to soak up all the Pimms, if you ask me.
Kenny Floyd, Paddo Inn
Stationed at the top of the hill, this venue has been around for nine years longer than I’ve been on this planet, with Solotel opening the Paddo Inn on William Street in 1986. For such a buzzing part of Paddington culture, Kenny and the Paddo gang are involved in the festival for many reasons. “The locals are such an integral part of who we are. Being able to showcase ourselves to the locals as well as all the fresh faces that the festival attracts makes it one of the most important and exciting days for us.”
Kenny believes the festival sheds light on the hidden hub of food and culture that the Paddington community has to offer. And honestly, I can’t fault his logic. I didn’t even know anything like this existed in Paddington. “We are generally the first stall people come to when they arrive. It’s pretty special being at the top of the hill, and watching the parade unfold. We love opening up all our glass windows so the festival almost spills into our venue. It’s an amazing vibe.” There’s an array of bright colours projected onto the street, perfect for adding that extra zest to the already colourful food, drink and dresses worn throughout the day.
But, apart from working his ass off, Kenny plans to spend the festival doing exactly what I’ll be doing. “I love being able to stroll down the street and try a little dish from each venue. There are plenty of small, delicious snacks to try, so you always have room for seconds! It’s amazing to pop into the vintage boutiques along the strip and see what little gems you can score; with a cocktail in hand, of course.” I nominate Kenny to be my festival travel buddy. He definitely knows how to go about it. It wouldn’t be a festival without an after party, and the Paddington Inn are professionals in this spectrum. Hosting DJs all day and night, all while serving up their special WSF offerings straight from the Spring menu. “It’s the perfect spot to finish the Festival.”
Joe, Carmelo and Anthony Cipri, Cipri Italian
Can you ever get enough Italian? That’s a trick question. The answer is obviously no, and the Cipri brothers would tend to agree with me, with this year being the fourth year of festival participation. “For the last 3 years, we had a stall for our restaurant Cipri Italian. This year we have 2 stalls; one for Cipri Italian (doing our famous meatballs and pasta in huge paella pans) and one for our new Italian cucina, Barbetta, featuring gelato, cannoli and other Italian treats.” I’m making a mental list of what I want to try at this festival, and cannoli is now on the list.
The bothers are no strangers to the vibrant walks of life that roam the streets around Paddington and William street, creating the special atmosphere. “It (the festival) reminds us of being in Europe, one big street party, filled with people eating, drinking and having fun. Plus, we’ve always had great weather.” And boy, do they know how make themselves known to everyone. “We bring an ‘old school’ experience with our retro set up and food offering. With the smell of meatballs wafting up the street, we are perhaps the loudest stand with the eldest brother, Joe, speaking in Italian on a megaphone.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but this literally sounds like an authentic Italian experience. Meatballs and dialling the volume up is classic. Another element that takes the stall to new heights is the fabulous green, velvet bar from the 1960s, that they bought from an Italian family, so keep an eye out for it and of course, go say hi. “We love being in Paddington and we love being part of a fun, festive community event. It’s a great opportunity to generate some awareness of what we do.”
This love of the community goes beyond the wandering patrons, too. Joe, Carmelo and Anthony love sharing and exchanging their food to various stalls, in exchange for experiencing new food and cocktails throughout the day. That really is the perfect way to do it.
William St Festival is on Saturday October 20 – 11.30am to 10pm. A number of live performances and retailers will also keep the day humming.
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