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.”