Two of WA's best-known food and wine identities, chef Seth James and winemaker Larry Cherubino, have joined forces to open a new restaurant in the heart of Margaret River wine country.
The duo will transform the former Laurance Wines site on Caves Road in Wilyabrup, and said they planned to open by early summer.
The restaurant will be named Frui Momento.
Seth James has, for the past eight years, been responsible for making Wills Domain one of the state's most talked about restaurants.
Larry Cherubino is widely acknowledged as one of Australia's finest wine makers and entrepreneurs.
The 50-seat restaurant will feature a contemporary à la carte menu as well as an informal grazing menu and cold bar for guests to eat and drink amongst the estate gardens. It will also be available for events.
The pair said the restaurant would have a strong wine focus from the Cherubino portfolio, and a wide selection of specialist imports chosen by Cherubino.
"For me this is a fantastic opportunity to work in an amazing site and with Larry and Edwina Cherubino," said Seth James.
"It's also a rare opportunity to finally do something for myself. Frui Momento will be my restaurant, and it's both exciting and a bit scary too."
And the name?
"It's Latin for 'Enjoy the Moment' and I think that's exactly what a good restaurant experience is all about.
"Cooking will always be my first passion, but the past eight years has given me a valuable grounding in the importance of creating a complete restaurant experience."
It brings excitement to the wine and food pairing opportunities. We really have a mutual respect for what each other's strengths are when it comes to food and the wine, and that's important.Larry Cherubino
James was raised in Brisbane, spent his formative career years in Melbourne, and moved to the Southwest in 2013.
In the following years Wills Domain was named WA Good Food Guide 'Regional Restaurant of the Year' in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019; awarded 2 Hats (16/20) in the national Fairfax Good Food Guide and a place in The Australian HOT 50 Hall of Fame.
The WA Good Food Guide named Wills Domain its Restaurant of the Year in 2018 and James its Regional Chef of the Year the following year.
"It's been a marvellous ride so far but I'm ready for the next chapter. I really believe Frui Momento has the potential to join a few others in the region as an internationally recognised food and wine destination," he said.
Overlooking the picturesque gardens and vineyard, guests can expect a similar aesthetic found at Cherubino's Perth venue City Cellar and the Margaret River Cellar Door, a short stroll from the restaurant.
James' well established, contemporary approach to food draws inspiration from his extensive travels through Asia.
"I've spent the past eight years developing really strong relationships with my suppliers and producers and I can't wait to collaborate more with them to create dishes that work in harmony with Larry's wines."
Cherubino will be responsible for the wine direction, with a list that incorporates Cherubino wines alongside regional examples from Margaret River, Italy, France and the rest of Australia.
"People will be able to sit here and try all of these different styles, regions and varietals in a winery restaurant setting, which is quite unique," said Cherubino.
"It's a celebration of wine and food, and that's what we want people to take away.
"It's nice to experience what Margaret River does best, and frame that alongside other wine regions of Australia and other parts of the world with the same varietals.
"It brings excitement to the wine and food pairing opportunities. We really have a mutual respect for what each other's strengths are when it comes to food and the wine, and that's important.
"We are really excited to have Seth join us on the property with Frui Momento; it brings together the cellar door and guest house with a serious dining experience.
"It's going to be great for him, great for us - it's going to be great for the region."