Justin Hemmes

GQ (Australia) - - NEWS -

It’s of­ten said the French have a word for every­thing. And here, in the speakeasy confnes of Palmer & Co, that word is bon­homie. In the rough­est of English terms, it speaks of an easy­go­ing, un­forced con­vivi­al­ity – cer­tainly cen­tral to the back-and-forth ban­ter be­tween hos­pi­tal­ity tsar Justin Hemmes and chef Guillaume Brahimi. Both men – long-time mates – have en­joyed a year of note. If Hemmes was, as some main­tain, a swag­ger­ing so­cialite born with a sil­ver spoon in his mouth, then he’s used it to carve out an em­pire that dwarves any he in­her­ited – the 43-year-old’s Merivale Group a bil­lion-dol­lar busi­ness that’s served most Syd­neysider or tourist across a slew of swanky prop­er­ties that have also reignited ar­eas (hello Syd­ney CBD, Coogee, New­port, Surry Hills) for so long strug­gling. As for Brahimi, while his 2013 de­par­ture from Syd­ney Opera House’s Ben­ne­long caused a stir (the knives of fa­nat­i­cal din­ers pointed at the House’s han­dling of the ten­der process) he hasn’t looked back – fnd­ing fur­ther ac­claim with Padding­ton bistro, Guillaume (along­side out­lets in Mel­bourne and Perth), with the 48-year-old also cook­ing up a new $4m Syd­ney CBD restau­rant and pri­vate cater­ing com­pany, Guillaume At Home. To­day’s shoot is a wel­come respite from the de­mands and stress of the ev­ery­day – both men re­laxed, happy to sit and shoot the breeze, re­flect on suc­cess, laugh, and sip on the odd Chivas. OK, a few.

“If you look at Guillaume’s busi­ness, it couldn’t be fur­ther away from trends. It’s about clas­sics, done well. I take the same ap­proach – we make our own way.”

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