A boy from Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, Moran first learned to cook in French restaurants, serving up “frogs’ legs and snails”. It wasn’t until he made his way to Italy and learned about their seasonal approach to cooking that he found his calling.
“I’d outgrown those fancy restaurant dishes and I just wanted to cook stuff that was really comforting and familiar and fed the soul a bit more,” he told Gourmet Traveller in 2020. He and his partner (now husband) Michael “Manoo” Robertson bought a property in Bilpin, transforming an apple orchard into a garden that would go on to feed thousands of future diners.
As long-time friend and fellow chef Kylie Kwong puts it, “Thirty years is no small feat in this tough industry of ours and it’s testament to how pure, authentic and simply good Sean’s offering is. I love Sean’s home-style restaurant kitchen filled with love and clutter and so many happy times. I love the linen napery with the burgundy trims, I love the focus and attention to every detail in his space. To me, he has the eye and mind of an artist, I love the intensity and obsessiveness, the care-factor in every single detail of that dining room and the side room with its rustic vases of roses and old honey pots.”
Kwong is one of many industry admirers, who seek out Moran’s culinary embrace when they step out of their own kitchens; their go-to destination for staff Christmas parties and celebrations.
“Sean has never allowed his ego to get in the way,” says Kwong. “He has always understood the importance of maintaining humility based on a deep understanding of self and the type of place he and Manoo want to offer the world.”
As Moran himself says, “We are not businessmen. We do stuff because we love it. We’ve always got through. You just have to have faith that what you’re doing is right and it’s pure and it has resonance and a relevance.”