AUSTRALIAN GOOD FOOD GUIDE - Home of the Chef Hat Awards
Franz Zdesar

Franz Zdesar



I was born in Australia and have an Austrian father and an Australian mother. 

I have lived in a multi-cultural neighbourhood and some of my earlier memories of food were when my parents hosted annual Australia Day get-togethers. The entire neighbourhood was invited to come and bring a national dish from their respective cultural backgrounds. The table was laden with all manner of exotic, delicious foods and from that young age I developed an adventurous palate and curiosity about food.

My parents wanted us to experience travel and other cultures and we were fortunate to have the opportunity to live in Austria, Spain and ultimately the UK.   As a 10-year-old, this experience opened my eyes to the world and different cuisines.

From a very young age I knew I wanted to be involved in the world of food and commenced working as a Commis Chef at the Britannia International Hotel in London. I was offered a scholarship at Butler’s Wharf Chef school where I learned invaluable skills; my career path went from there to working in Michelin-star restaurants including Nobu, Hakkasan and Roka in London.     

I worked in Dubai in a managerial role but was enticed back to London to work alongside my brother to develop a concept restaurant called Ping Pong (a modern offering of dim sum and cocktails).

I helped with the menu development and continued in a managerial capacity. As much as I loved living in working in London, I now had a young family and wanted them to experience living in Australia - the outdoor lifestyle, beaches, blue skies and space.

Returning to Australia after a long absence caused me to view it differently, so much opportunity! After a stint working front of house for some great venues like Harvest Newrybar and Fins by Steven Snow, I had an overwhelming desire to open my own restaurant.

I opened Project Tokyo in Mermaid Waters - its success and subsequent sale allowed me to have a break and contemplate my next move.  I had time to think about what I enjoyed most and that was to open another unique restaurant and return to the kitchen, back to my roots.

I had come full circle and opened Agave Rosa, opposite Kirra Beach. Agave Rosa married two of my favourite cuisines, Japanese and Mexican which have fresh and exciting flavours on their own, but also work terrifically together. 

I’m constantly experimenting with flavours and new dishes. The location of my restaurant never ceases to blow me away - I pinch myself when I see the ocean from my restaurant and love to run across the road for a quick swim whenever I can. It’s a far cry from my earlier London urban experience.  

Have you always wanted to be a Chef? 

I was 10-years-old when I lived in Austria and became aware of 'Chef school'.  I knew I wanted to be involved with food in some capacity and saw this as a pathway. 

How would you define your style?


What is your favourite flavour these days?

Miso and chilli.

Obsessive/compulsive about?

Experimenting with new flavours.

An ingredient you can’t live without?

Miso, it adds both savoury umami and a hint of sweetness to marinades, spices and dressings - a flavour bomb that adds depth to many of my dishes.

Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu item?

Durian ice cream!  Not for the faint-hearted, definitely an acquired taste. I once tried it in Singapore when I was a child and haven’t forgotten the experience.   

Signature dish:

Tuna sashimi tostada.

What can diners expect when they eat at your restaurant and what makes the experience special?

A fun, relaxed environment with great tasting food, awesome cocktails and friendly staff.

Your greatest culinary influence?

Most definitely my older brother Kurt, a successful restaurateur who has venues all over the world. I admire and emulate his enthusiasm for experimenting with flavours and combining the best elements of influential cuisines.

What do you love about this business?

Every day is fast paced and never dull, no two days are the same.

What do you think COVID has taught restaurants and Chefs about their diners and the industry in general?

The pandemic taught us how to get creative and work smarter. It pushed us towards adopting technology to address staff shortages. We now have tablet ordering in lieu of traditional waiter service. The waiters can focus on the things that only people can do…like greeting diners, answering questions and anticipating the guests’ needs. They can then be more present, providing the kind of service that exceeds expectation. 

Ultimately, the pandemic taught us to do more with less.

Tell us something that nobody knows about you?

Some things need to be kept a secret!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

I hope to have a couple more venues and more opportunity to travel with my family.