Childhood, Theatre & Food with Coda Head Chef

Good Food Gift Card - Adam D'Sylva

Inspired by our competition to win a Matilda the Musical Experience including flights and accommodation for you and three friends, we sat down with Adam D’Sylva, Head Chef of Coda and Tonka to chat childhood dreams and the theatre of food, plus he shares his take on the perfect Chocolate Cake.

Best person you’ve ever cooked for?     

There has been a few. Robert De Niro, Elle McPherson, John Travolta, John Cleese, Nicole Kidman…

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Tiger Woods, Prince, Paul Bocuse, Eva Mendes, Sofia Vergara, and Jerry Seinfeld. A full house!

What’s your favourite dish on the menu and why?

At the moment, the Tandoor Chicken at Tonka.

Any tips for budding chefs and home-cook enthusiasts?

Cook with love, and always taste and season food. Don’t over complicate dishes.

Funniest incident in the kitchen?

Accidentally freezing 5 kilos of fresh black Italian truffles when cooking in Italy. I was supposed to only put them in the fridge…

How do you create theatre in your restaurant?

Using lighting, music, great food and wine. And the mood of the kitchen and front of house staff must be happy.

What would be your theme song for your restaurant?

The soundtrack of The Wedding Singer movie. It has every emotion in it.

If you could have a magic power just like Matilda, what would it be?

The ability to fly. And X-ray vision like Superman would be pretty cool.

What mischievous thing did you do as a child?

I used to forge my parent’s signatures when I got detentions so I didn’t get in trouble.

Favourite food to have in your lunchbox as a child?

Snickers bar and a jam doughnut.

Did you eat your veggies when you were a child?

Yes, I loved all foods. Took me a while to eat avocado though!

Favourite Roald Dahl book as a child?

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

Good Food Gift Card - Adam D'Sylva

Adam and his children enjoy a night out at Matilda the Musical.

What were your best and worst subjects at school?

All of them were my worst!

Who inspired you as a child?

My Nonna with her cooking.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A chef. I knew from about the age of 5.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?


Who are your heroes?


What quote do you live by?

Work smart, not hard and love what you do!

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I hate blue cheese.

Who’s your role model?    

My mother and many of my peers.

What’s the last gift you gave someone?

Two dozen pink roses to my daughter after her dance concert.

Good Food Gift Card - Matilda Recipe

Most memorable chocolate eating experience?

I first started making chocolate cakes when I was 5. I was known for them amongst my family.

Best tip for cooking with chocolate?

Use a good quality chocolate and cocoa. Don’t overcook the cake; you don’t want it to dry out.

White, milk or dark chocolate?

Dark is my preferred followed by white then milk. The more bitter the better!

Adam’s Chocolate Cake Recipe

Chocolate Sponge


Egg yolks 200g
Whole eggs 100g
Sugar #01 220g
Hazelnut meal 110g
Flour 80g
Cocoa powder 80g
Butter (Melted) 270g
Egg whites 300g
Sugar #02 120g


  • Gift hazelnut meal, flour, and cocoa powder together. 

  • Whisk egg yolks, whole eggs, and sugar #01 until pale yellow, and fluffy. Set aside in 
a large bowl. 

  • Whisk egg whites, and sugar #02 until a medium peak meringue. 

  • Mix melted butter with sifted dry ingredients into a paste.
  • Gently fold in egg yolk 
mixture. Finish by folding in meringue. 

  • Portion into two rectangle cake tins about 30 cm by 18cm.
  • Bake at 160°c for about 
30 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. Leave chocolate sponge to cool 
completely before portioning. 

  • Cut into 12 cm diameter discs ready for assembly. 

Dark Chocolate Ganache


Dark chocolate 750g
Cream 750g
Butter (Soft) 180g


  • Melt dark chocolate in a bowl. 

  • Heat cream up in a pot until about 60°c. Pour a small amount into dark chocolate, 
and emulsify. Gradually add in the cream, and mix until smooth, and silky. 

  • Add in soft butter, and mix well. 

  • Pour onto a tray covered with cling-wrap, and allow to cool completely before use. 

To assemble 

  • Start with a layer of chocolate sponge, and spread a layer of dark chocolate ganache. Do this alternately with chocolate sponge, and dark chocolate ganache, to finish with the chocolate sponge on the top. 

  • Cover entire cake with a thin layer of dark chocolate ganache, and leave in the fridge to harden slightly. 

  • Put some dark chocolate ganache in a piping bag with a star nozzle. Take the cake out of the fridge, and pipe rosettes around for decoration. 

  • Serve at room temperature. 

Good Food Gift Card - Matilda Recipe

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Mireille Kilgour

Mireille Kilgour

Mireille Kilgour has been an entrepreneur for 35 years in the hospitality sector. French born, she has been an accomplished business owner and operator for a number of Sydney venues. Leading the industry with high profile institutions such as Lamrock Café Bondi, she has endless passion for the industry, and now has the pleasure of supporting restaurants to fill their tables with the new Good Food Gift Card program.