When designing a quintessentially French menu for December’s ’Fete de Provence’ - Feast of Provence, few come more qualified than renowned Sydney chef Damien Pignolet.
Chef Pignolet began his illustrious career in 1966 and has since worked as an Executive Chef at some of Sydney’s best restaurants, as well as having established nine of his own.
Damien, a second generation Australian of French descent, was inspired by his mother, a wonderful cook, to make restaurants his career. In 1966 he began a four-year course in catering and hotel management at William Angliss College in Melbourne, before kick-starting his career catering and teaching at a Melbourne cooking school.
Six years after graduating, Damien’s dream was realised when he was appointed Executive Chef of one of Sydney’s top restaurants at the time, Pavillion on the Park, in 1978. He then went on to co-own and run the kitchens of Butler’s Restaurant and The Old Bank in Darlinghurst.
In 1981 Damien and his wife Josephine bought Claude’s restaurant in Woollahra, and devoted over 12 years to the highly acclaimed boutique restaurant, establishing its highly regarded reputation at the forefront of French fine dining and culinary inventiveness. 1992 saw Damien go into partnership with Ron White, and together they purchased the Woollahra Hotel. Bistro Moncur was created here, plating up French bistro classics alongside daily specials which showcased the best of Australia’s seasonal produce. The partnership then went on to acquire the Bellevue Hotel in nearby Paddington in 2005, well-known for offering a similarly high standard of pub-style dishes.
As one of Australia’s finest chefs with a wealth of culinary secrets to share, Damien’s first book French was published in October 2005, which encompassed timeless French recipes specifically adapted for Australian ingredients and tastes. The success of this book led the way to 2010’s Salades, where Damien elevated the seemingly simple salad into an art form.
Now having returned to the Bellevue Hotel as Executive Chef and working on his next cook book, Damien looks forward to educating Sydney foodies on the many facets of French food and wine through his creative involvement with the Felton & Co. Fete de Provence dinner this December.
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