Meet the Chef: Daniel Cabban, Arrana


Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

By Ellen Hill

In a suburban arcade is a chic new restaurant ruffling feathers in the fine dining scene. We meet executive chef Daniel Cabban to talk Indigenous ingredients, video games and working with mum Leisa.


How did you find your way into a fine dining kitchen?

I was at uni studying Information Technology (games design and development). I loved it but didn’t like being back in that schooling environment. At the time, I was working three different jobs, two of them in kitchens and loved that so much more.

I started out with Grant Farrant (then Restaurant Como, Blaxland) as a ``dishie’’ and stayed with him two years after my apprenticeship before he sold it and I went to Qualia on Hamilton Island, Queensland, before travelling around India and Nepal.

How did Arrana come about?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do next. My mother Leisa had just left her job as a GP in Western Sydney after 25 years. We considered a catering business but decided that a restaurant would be more efficient.

Working with Mum is great. We butt heads occasionally, but we’ve got a strong connection and bounce ideas off each other. The design of the restaurant is a very good example of how Mum and I work together. She goes for that elegant, chic, sophisticated look where my idea is for a more rustic, Blue Mountains-esque vibe. I think we nailed that element quite well because it’s really elegant with woody elements. The only thing I didn’t have any input into was the bathrooms, and she takes full credit for that.

Arrana isn’t all about the food. The food gets them in, and they stay for the warm welcome and experience – our staff get to know our customers when they come in, so they remember them next time.

Arrana has a focus on Indigenous flavours? Why so?

When we first designed the restaurant, my first thought was that the Three Sisters is such a huge Australian landmark known everywhere – but there's no acknowledgment of Indigenous culture in food.

We focus on native ingredients you don’t normally get in restaurants because they’re a little bit tricky to use. I experiment a lot with flavours. I’m always looking for new ingredients. There aren’t a huge number of suppliers in NSW that do the fresh produce, so we have to source ingredients from wherever we can around Australia. A lot of locals have native ingredients growing in their backyard though, and bring them in for us.

In 2022 Arrana was awarded two Chefs Hats from the Australian Good Food Guide, just 15 months after opening. Was that something you aimed to achieve?

Not at all. We weren’t expecting it to be so early on. We weren’t really getting our name out there that much, so I don’t know how they knew about us.

What can diners at Arrana look forward to this Spring?

I'm working on a sweet corn dish and another one with cured salmon, and there’s a new dessert in the works – mandarin, rosella and fennel. Spring is always a good time for lamb as an alternative to beef. We change the menu every few weeks. I get bored, so changing it keeps it interesting. I’m always working on stuff.

Arrana is located opposite the Blue Mountains Theatre. Can diners experience a dinner and show?

We offer early sittings on Friday and Saturday. Sitting times are available for 5.30pm or 5.45pm and tables need to be vacated by 7.45pm. Guest just let us know when they book.

Arrana is open for lunch (11.30am to 4pm) Fridays and Saturdays and dinner (6pm to 10pm) Wednesdays and Thursdays and (5.30pm to 11pm) Fridays and Saturdays. There is a 4 ($120pp) and 7-course ($160) set menu, with matched wines an additional $60 (4-course) and $90 (7-course) per person. Two-course lunch express ($80pp) is available with a glass of wine, beer or soft drink. Vegetarian and vegan menus available. No children under-12.

Arrana, Shops 9-12, 125 Macquarie Road, Springwood

T: 02 4751 5159


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