In a series of social media posts last week on Facebook and Instagram, Attila Yilmaz, who owns Pazar Food Collective in Sydney’s Canterbury suggested new restaurant Park House Food & Liquor, in Mona Vale on the North Shore, of copying his menu.
Yilmaz, whose menu is inspired by his childhood and extensive travels, says he developed his dishes over many years, and considers them to be “fairly unique to our restaurant.”
“Dishes like the smashed cucumber with shaved yoghurt snow, you just don’t see that everywhere - it was inspired by a cold Turkish soup I used to eat as a kid,” he says.
“Dishes like the smashed cucumber with shaved yoghurt snow, you just don’t see that everywhere."
Park House, which is owned by hospitality veterans Fraser Short and Arthur Laundy (of Sydney Collective), has a dish called “smashed and marinated cucumbers with shaved yoghurt snow, lemon and mint dressing”.
Other dishes - like hummus with minted peas (a dish Yilmaz says was created in a late-night accident at the restaurant and he’s never seen anywhere else), blackened pumpkin with chimichurri, and coconut sorbet with pineapple snow bear striking resemblances to dishes at Park House.
They don’t just appear similar on the menu, either - the plating of the dishes is eerily familiar.
“In some ways,” says Yilmaz, “the attention is flattering. But dining there [at Park House, where he noticed the similarities] was surreal. The dishes were very familiar to me.”
Yilmaz met with representatives from Park House in the initial planning stages of the restaurant, but was unable to continue working with them for personal reasons.
While Yilmaz has been frank about what he feels is copycat menu, Park House have distanced themselves entirely, sending out a statement saying that the menu was “just words… which might represent the ingredients of a dish, but the essence of a dish is the recipe and how the produce is sourced and handled.”
In a statement sent to SBS Food, Park House owners insist that their dishes are original. “Our vision for both our food and venue experience is solely our vision. The allegations that have been made have no substance as Sydney Collective chefs never entered a kitchen with Attila [Yilmaz] nor were any recipes shared between parties.”
Short and Laundy maintain that the dishes on their menu are inspired by head chef Eric Tan's travels to the US and Mexico.
Yilmaz, who is awaiting legal advice, says that he’s incredibly proud of his team, including new head chef Alex Martin. “I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved here. It’s a small business, and we run a tight ship. We’ve had amazing feedback on our menu, and we deserve that praise. It’s nice to know that people really enjoy something you’ve created. That’s why I’m protective of it.”