SYDNEY | Cultural identity is easy for some, and complex for others. Take myself, for example. Born and raised in Australia, as are my parents, with grandparents from what is today known as the Macedonian region of Greece. So I have Greek heritage right? Well on a geographical definition, yes. My grandparents, however, identify as Macedonian (as do I), but distinct from the country that’s today known as North Macedonia. Like I said, it’s complicated. I could talk to you for hours about my example. Through my travels, I’ve seen similar stories play out throughout the world. Culture, who owns it, and who is allowed to define themselves by it, is a Pandora’s Box.
One area where this is very apparent is food. Millennia of empires, immigration, wars, pillaging and plundering means that a lot of what a culture recognises as its cuisine, is also found, generally with regional variations, in other cultures. If it think of the food that I grew up with, that I consider Macedonian food, and it’s a total mish mash. There’s Balkan food, Greek food, Turkish food, Persian food, wider Middle Eastern food, and more. Combined, it is Macedonian food, it’s my food, but not exclusively so.
For me this is why a restaurant like Baba’s Place. I visited, curious to see how a ‘trendy’ restaurant represents food that I recognise from my culture, and found a lot more than I expected.
Owners Alex Kelly and Jean Paul El Tom, have created a place that draws upon Alex’s Macedonian heritage and Jean Paul’s Lebanese heritage. A modern Macedonian-Lebanese restaurant in simple terms, but it’s more than that. Baba’s Place is an ode to Sydney’s multicultural Western Suburbs, a reflection of the cross cultural food that I was talking about earlier.
Anyone who has Eastern European, Mediterranean, or Middle Eastern heritage will recognise elements of what’s going on here. There’s even nods to other cultures that makes the Western Suburbs what they are. The result is fun, heartfelt, and delicious. For me, there is, of course, a nostalgic element.
Visit, order more than you can eat, and don’t leave until your plates are spotless. It’s the way baba would want it.
20 Sloane Street
New South Wales 2204
Thu – Fri: 6:00pm to 12:00am
Sat: 12:00pm to 4:00pm, 6:00pm to 12:00am
Sun: 12:00pm to 4:00pm