THERE’S no getting away from it. The E Shed markets are a drab facsimile: a ragtag bunch of souvenir stalls, knick-knacks and bain-maries.
It’s not a go-to destination: it’s a glorified gangway, a place where you begrudgingly sip coffee while you wait to board the ferry to Rottnest.
I doubt whether even the Lonely Planet guide—which described Fremantle as a salty Xanadu—enjoyed its “raffish” charm.
In an attempt to revitalise the E Shed, the port authority offered up-and-coming local chef Nimrod Kazoom a bunch of incentives to open his hip restaurant there.
“They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” he laughs.
“I only suggested a prep-kitchen at first, but they wanted me to open a full-blown restaurant.
“I was given everything I asked for: a good rent for six months, extra space for seating, some kitchen equipment, and other incentives.”
The council also gave Kazoom a helping hand: awarding him a $5000 grant when he matched its contribution via crowdfunding.
“I haven’t been to the E-Shed markets in years,” concedes mayor Brad Pettitt.
“It needs a go-to destination and I think Kazoomies will be the start of that.
“The views are amazing down there and the area has so much potential.”
Recently the WA planning commission signed off on the Victoria Quay masterplan, but Dr Pettitt says it could be years before the project is realised and money starts flowing through the port.
Kazoomies—which serves up a fusion of Latin and North African cuisine—has been open for two weeks and Kazoom says it’s now pulling in 200 customers a day.
“When my accountant saw the initial figures he joked that it was quite suicidal—but, Stephen, I trust the universe,” he says.
“It’s all hands to the pump down here and we have four staff, including me, who work hard to make it a success.”
Before opening the portside restaurant, Kazoom ran several stalls at food markets in Perth and Fremantle, including Bathers Beach, was head chef at the arts centre cafe and worked at Wino’s in Margaret River.
His shakshuka made it to the top 25 breakfast dishes in Australia in gourmet traveler.
Every week the 39-year-old donates donates unsold produce to Oz Harvest, which distributes it where it’s needed throughout the community.
The passionate Israeli moved to Freo in 2006 after falling in love with a woman he’d met while volunteering at a soup kitchen.
“That love affair is no longer going, but I have a new love affair — with Fremantle,” he swoons.
The original E Shed, built at the wharf more than 110 years ago, was used to handle cargo flowing through the port.
The port authority wanted to tear it down but heritage enthusiasts lobbied for it to be transformed. In 1995, and $6 million later, it was opened as E Shed Markets.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK