MADE IN FRANCE

FRED­ERIC COLIN HAS AL­READY TAKEN HIS FRENCH BISTRO FARE TO SIN­GA­PORE; NOW SYD­NEY IS GET­TING A TASTE.

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - FOOD -

For a pas­sion­ate lover of French cui­sine, Frédéric Colin is a long way from Paris. In fact the chef has been far from his home town for a long time. But that is the whole point: Colin has made his name ex­port­ing the very best of the Paris bistro to dif­fer­ent parts of the world and now Aus­tralia.

He and his busi­ness part­ner, som­me­lier and gen­eral man­ager Lionel Richard, have opened Bistrot Gavroche in the re­de­vel­op­ment of Kens­ing­ton Street in the for­mer Carl­ton and United Brew­ery site in Chip­pen­dale, on the south edge of Syd­ney’s CBD. Set in an 1880s-built rum ware­house, the restau­rant is based on cui­sine that Colin’s grand­fa­ther Henri used to cook in Les Halles.

It is the third restau­rant for Colin, who has sim­i­lar eater­ies, Brasserie Gavroche and Café Gavroche, in Sin­ga­pore. And it was Sin­ga­pore-based Stan­ley Quek, the prop­erty devel­oper be­hind the Kens­ing­ton Street project, who con­vinced Colin to come to Syd­ney and open a bistro.

“About a year ago, he talked to me about this project, and here I am,” Colin tells WISH just af­ter the restau­rant’s open­ing in June. The chef, who trained at Miche­lin-starred restau­rants in Paris, was im­pressed with what Quek had done in Sin­ga­pore, re­new­ing ne­glected parts of the city, and his in­ter­est was piqued when he saw the re­de­vel­op­ment of Chip­pen­dale.

Colin also thought Syd­ney des­per­ately needed a clas­sic French bistro. “French cui­sine is not that trendy right now, it is not what peo­ple want. Peo­ple al­ways think of the cliché, of but­ter, of cream, that is very ex­pen­sive,” he says. “But what is hap­pen­ing now in most of the trends in French food world­wide is to go back to the ba­sics. And that is what I do – it is about time­less cui­sine.”

Colin grew up spend­ing week­ends and hol­i­days in his father’s or his grand­fa­ther’s restau­rant. “I had no choice re­ally,” he says of his pro­fes­sion. “When I was seven, my grand­par­ents asked me what I wanted to do and I said I wanted to be a chef. I try to re­mem­ber why but it was prob­a­bly just be­ing sur­rounded by it and I loved my grand­fa­ther so much.”

A stint in mil­i­tary ser­vice (he was the per­sonal chef to the Mil­i­tary Gover­nor of Paris) fol­lowed culi­nary school. He was of­fered a job in the Caribbean af­ter fin­ish­ing in the mil­i­tary and there be­gan his over­seas ad­ven­tures. “I went from St Barts to Mi­ami to Bora Bora and then to Sin­ga­pore,” he says of his ca­reer. He was the ex­ec­u­tive chef at the lux­ury St Regis Re­sort in Bora Bora (where he saw his fair share of celebri­ties and once had to char­ter a pri­vate jet to nearby Tahiti to pick up a pineap­ple for one fa­mous guest).

Af­ter a few years at St Regis in Sin­ga­pore, Colin de­cided to open his own French brasserie in­spired by his grand­fa­ther’s Paris restau­rant. It was such a hit that just nine months later he opened a more ca­sual café across the road.

So does Colin want to open an­other Bistrot Gavroche in Aus­tralia? “I would love to,” he says. “If I had the op­por­tu­nity, the next one would be Mel­bourne. But this is very new and busi­ness is not easy any­where in the world so I want to fo­cus on this one first and the cus­tomers here.”

Chef Fred­eric Colin, left, and som­me­lier and gen­eral man­ager Lionel Richard

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