To friends and colleagues a move from London to Australia (and in particular Perth) seemed to be a backward step for someone so obsessed with food and drink.
I've always had a restless hunger: looking for the next taste that will redefine my food landscape. London is a city that allows you to do this daily if you wish, so the collective view back there was that I was headed for a culinary desert where Aussie cuisine starts and ends with the barbecue, an Esky of ice-cold Fosters and possibly a bottle of Jacobs Creek for the ladies.
Now, before I draw the collective ire of _The West _'s readership, I would say it is a view that I do not share and dispel at any given opportunity. As with Melbourne, the good folk of London do sometimes like to think they invented the idea of eating out. Choice is abundant, from high-end Michelin-starred swank to earthy gastro pubs to down and dirty pop-up affairs peddling posh street food. Yes I'll miss it, but that's not to say that Perth (and further afield in WA) doesn't have anything to offer. Far from it.
With high-quality produce - whether grown, caught or reared - you really do see the difference on the plate, at home or dining out. At barbecues and gatherings whether from an Aussie, Ukranian, Croatian or Burmese background there is always the question of where'd you get that meat? Where'd you get those prawns? This diversity and appreciation of quality produce is no doubt what drives a vibrant food scene in Perth.
As outside influences come in, whether through immigration or travel, the scene grows ever larger. With the march of the small bar and operator, emerging street food scene and a personable and polite level of service, the lure of London is not as strong.
Without this turning into a love-in, there are those aspects of Perth hospitality that I find difficult to stomach. Price is the obvious and often complained about factor in Perth life, with people hankering after the cheaper low-key dining found elsewhere.
While good-quality cheap eats are on the rise there is still more that could be done to bring the two closer together and 2013 could be the year that this becomes more of a reality.
Call me old-fashioned but as a paying customer I like to think that my experience is paramount to the establishment I'm in, whether it's a high-end restaurant or a pie stand. Although Perth is not alone in this, I have been struck by the number of places that have a policy. Whether it's the policy not to provide more than one bill per table, or to not serve a dish from the bar menu in the adjoining restaurant - despite the fact that most dishes (except the one I particularly want) are on the restaurant menu and I am separated from the bar by a sheer curtain. How about that age-old policy, where the customer is always right?
These negatives in no way outweigh the positives I see in the Perth scene. An influx of new ideas while holding on to the core strengths the State has to offer will only make WA's food and drink scene more vibrant, marking it down globally as a place to eat.
'I've always had a restless hunger . . .'
Max Brearley is a food, drink and travel writer published in The Guardian, View London and Eat Me Magazine in the UK.