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On a beautiful day by Sydney harbour, chef and delicious. Produce Awards national judge Guillaume Brahimi hosted a luxe lunch of Champagne, caviar and good times for a launch that combined to be a little bit Frenchy and oh so chic.
Did you know that caviar has lifting, firming and nourishing benefits for your complexion? “I knew caviar was good for my belly, but turns out it’s pretty special for your skin, too,” says Guillaume Brahimi on a recent afternoon in Sydney. The good-humoured, French-born chef was hosting an event for beauty brand La Prairie, where the rarefied roe was on the menu and on the mind. “Is it expensive?” he asks rhetorically, referring to Sterling and Ossetra varieties. “Yes, but for special occasions it’s worth it.”
Though he is known for his meticulous Paris-style bistros, in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, Brahimi has a more casual approach to off-duty entertaining. “No one wants a 20-course degustation at your home,” he says. “And let’s not forget the fun factor.”
The breezy repast at this waterfront residence, where guests arrived by private boat charter, illustrates his thinking. Keep the focus on seasonal produce, serve pristine seafood (bugs are a favourite), and add a refined flourish with caviar. “I like to make fresh blinis at home and, paired with Champagne, it’s a great way to start the meal.”
According to the chef, one of autumn’s most unsung vegetables is celeriac. In his take on gratin, a staple of French cuisine, Brahimi replaces potato with the celery-like, nutty-flavoured vegie. Apples are in their prime now, too. “I first learned to make tarte Tatin when I was a 14-year-old apprentice,” he says. “It’s ideal for autumn; I wouldn’t make one in summer.” His recipe for brussels sprouts, spruced up with speck and maple dressing, is another crowd-pleaser. “My kids love them now,” says the father to four children ranging in ages from seven to 18. “They like caviar, too, but the tin doesn’t get opened until the guests arrive.
Set the scene
“Savoir vivre is a product of France, but we’re like that in Australia, too,” says Brahimi of the mode of living elegantly. “At breakfast, French people talk about what they will have for lunch. At lunch, we talk about dinner.” In terms of how he likes to dine, the chef has a few tabletop essentials: Laguiole cutlery, Mud plates and silver ice buckets.
“I rarely do a formal dinner at home,” he says. “I prepare most of the things in advance and serve it buffet-style. French is the foundation of my cooking, but when you look at this menu, with kingfish and bugs, I venture outside of it, too.”
Carla Bruni, Jack Johnson and Italian singer Paolo Conte are all on high rotation when the chef entertains. “Or it could be Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and Biggie Smalls.”
“I would start with Champagne, then a Margaret River chardonnay, and then serve a French burgundy, especially with a chicken dish.”