Masterchef S02 ep7 : Guillarmen Brahimi, Bennelong Opera House Restaurant, [Sydney]

Interview with Guillarmen Brahimi

A disciple of the legendary Joel Robuchon [he even completed 3 stages at Jamin!], Brahimi brings his Parisien technique to an Architectural Icon - The Sydney Opera House.


Bennelong: … Bennelong, really it’s a restaurant located in the Opera House in Sydney, Australia.
Be fair to say 15 years ago when I arrived in Australia and I was driving around that bridge, and
you would have said to me I would put my name into this building one day, I think I would have

Bennelong: When I start very early at 14 ½ but I’ve been in family of doctors so we always used to
eat very well but never anyone in my family was in the restaurant game. My grandfather was a
very good cook and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with him.

Bennelong: At the age of 13 I was not very academic and my dad say well listen you know what do
you like, and I say I really love cooking and he said well what about you go spend your Christmas
holiday into a restaurant and see how you like it. So I was lucky enough to go to Jaman.

Bennelong: I remember I was cleaning mussels and I don’t think I said a word for a week I was so
quiet and you know scared, 14 years old into this brigade of maniac and Robuchon was Robuchon.

Bennelong: It was Christmas and Easter arrive and my signed me to La Tour Lajon for two weeks
as well as a work experience and I was the proudest man in the world. My friends at school were
saying, we’re going skiing, what are you doing? And what happened after that, I decide to start my

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

Bennelong: My dad decided it was better I go to a little bistro so I went to Chapon… in Paris, Rue
Mabiyong. Pierre Badege … was amazing for me because he teach me as much as he could in his
bistro, but he teach me the value of life, the respect of the produce and the respect of each other.

Bennelong: And after that I went back to La Tour D’Argent for two and a half year and Dominic
Bouchet, three star Michelin and I was in the …

Bennelong: Everybody used to sign six months contract to start with and after my six months it
was just in June so school holidays in France, all my friends at school say, Keon, come on holiday
with us, you’ve been working hard and three others commie started at the same time so we all
wait, you know I told my mum and dad I’m resigning I need my three months holiday, you know
I’ve been working and my parents say yes, pretty, you know you’ve been working pretty hard for
18 years old you know you can go back in September somewhere else and the two chefs, they went
into the office you know chef, I’m resigning, it’s my six months, yeah, yeah, yeah and I walk in
and I say chef, he say you will leave the day I tell you, you will leave. Say, yes chef, and I left.
And the day I left Le Tour Lajon is when Dominic call me to his office, he was on the phone with
Robuchon and Robuchon was asking for somebody and Dominic said do you want to go to
Robuchon and I say oh, he said quick, I’m on the phone with him. You go this afternoon and see
him, that was a Thursday afternoon, I went to see Robuchon in his office with a letter from
Dominic Buchet and Robuchon remember when I was, when I come four years ago, he show me
the, his diary, s… Dominic Buchet showed me the letter he was writing to him, that was pretty
special. And I went in, he say okay well I want you to come and work for me, you’re starting on
Monday. So I say, I went back to Dominic Buchet and he say, go have your weekend off, you’re
starting on Monday with Robuchon well done.

Bennelong: And when I think about my time at Robuchon I wouldn’t be where I am without him.
You know he said to me one day, l’amour … the love of the perfect work and there is no easy way
to get that, you need to sweat, you need to work, you need, it’s hard, you know you do three steps
forward, five steps back and you still have to keep going and you are as good as your last service
you know but he teach me the rigour and the respect. But rigour is hard, I’m probably harder on
myself than I am on any of my staff.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

Bennelong: There is few three stars Michelin chefs who stay in their kitchen every night and
Robuchon did that til the age of 50 he there lunch dinner, I was there for three and a half years and
he never missed one service. Not many chefs can say that.

Bennelong: Robuchon knew what he wants and he knew how to express it to the team in the
kitchen and we used to create it with him, you know with him telling us what to do and Robuchon
for me is one of the greatest chefs ever. Without a doubt.

Bennelong: It was hard, you know, no girlfriends, no time to go out, you know we work like, there
is no way you could ask people to work the way we used to work at Robuchon, 7.30 in the morning
to midnight, Monday to Friday, who works like that? For nothing you know.

Bennelong: That was my second year at Robuchon I went to my military service and I went to the
20 years anniversary of G… and Robuchon was there and he said what are you doing, I say oh
nothing, and you know I saw him and I got the, and I went back. I’m probably one of the only men
that went back and after that I got the opportunity to come here and he say you mad.

Bennelong: The Nico Hotel was opening here and Monsieur LeClare was the general manager of
the Nico when Robuchon was there, was the general manager here and Maurice Gilway was one of
the ex of Robuchon was the executive chef there so he say oh great come and work with me. So I
worked there but it was very easy for me so I was concentrating on trying to play rugby for a
couple of years.

Jewellery Theatre Elements

Bennelong: I was attracted to the kitchen again and I opened a small restaurant called Pom, tiny
restaurant in The Cross doing bistro food and no advertising, small budget, nothing like you know
and we were chock a block, we have queue every night outside.

Bennelong: There is a guide here called The Good Food Guide and we got two hearts after six
months and the person want Quay, Quay Restaurant they don’t think, call me and say would you
like to come for a coffee with me. I went there I was 26 and he said would you like to take my
restaurant and I say that’s fine, I want carte blanche and I want to be on the top, I don’t want the
maitre d to tell me what to do, I want to, and I left and it’s funny because he called me back and he
said we, we haven’t talked salary I say, I’m not worried about salary, we’ll talk when I get you
three hearts and best French restaurant. And I did.

Bennelong: So I keep it for three years, we got Best French Restaurant, three hearts, I say another
year and the Olympics arrive, we change the name from Bisson to Quay and he always said to me
the day you’re ready I would sell it to you but unfortunately his price was there and my price was
there and every time I was going there, he was going further so I left and I end up with no work
and I tell you it’s an amazing thing because you’re so solicited you know you’ve got that you best,
you know and next day you’re history.

Bennelong: I got a gig in a club to look at the USOC during the Olympic Games, so I was cooking
for Madeline Debride every day and made some great connection with I don’t know if you know
behind the scene of the Olympics, it’s like a business conference you know there is no, I didn’t see
one athlete in the USOC and after that I saw this thing coming in, you know offer to tender, so I
went in, put my proposal, got the first step, second step and the third step, I did my presentation to
trust and the whole idea was I was going to put my name into it so I thought well they might tell
me to get lost or they might like it and I say I want to put my name in it because I want, that’s how
much I can show you my commitment to the place. And I got it and the first job was hard, hard.
And so anyway it was hard and it has been seven years and it’s hard.

Jewellery Theatre Fairytales

Bennelong: It’s modern French, you know meaning I’m not trying to use coriander as much as I
am not trying to use raw seafood. You know we are in a beautiful sunny country you know you
have to be able to do some … you know the food people, I’m a big believer, I cook what the
people want.

Bennelong: We try to follow the season as much as we can. We are in Australia so we look in
winter and today beautiful sunny day, but we are trying to concentrate on the season.

Bennelong: Funny story, somebody ordering a 70 full Dom Peringon last week in … and ordering
the steak well done with just mashed potato with it. You know what, we did it.

Bennelong: We did one dinner, lunch here with only 12 people and they were the world 12 leaders,
Bush, China, Putin, guns everywhere, amazing, just 12 people you know and I say you get rid of a
few of them you’ll be in big, the world will be in a bit of chaos.

Bennelong: And people will say to us, oh, I want a good seat, there is no such thing as a bad seat in
this restaurant.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Guillarme Brahimi, Bennelong Opera House Restaurant, [Sydney]