15 April 2024

Five minutes with Brendan Guy, Rabble Group

| Claire Sams
A man standing with an arm folded on a bar

Brendan Guy won’t turn down a recommendation for a good laksa, though he thinks he’s found some of the best already. Photo: Rabble Group.

Who are you?

Brendan Guy, executive chef at Rabble Group. I oversee all of Rabble Group’s kitchens, so I spend my days working with the head chefs within each of our venues to develop the menus.

How did you get involved in the hospitality industry?

I started really young – it was an after-school job when I was 14 at McDonald’s but I moved to the Brassey of Canberra when I was about 16.

I can remember a lady there who took me under her wing and said, “No mate, you’ve got to get off the dishes – you need to be in the kitchen”. I must have showed something special, and she was just lovely. I’ll never forget her. That was the start of my career.

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What is your favourite or must-use ingredient when cooking?

I love mustard – I’ll put it on anything. Dijon is probably my go-to. I’ve always kept it in the fridge.

What recent dish are you most proud of?

I designed the menu at Bada Bing from top to bottom, start to finish with the team, and I would have to pick the guanciale [an Italian cured meat product from pork jowl or cheeks] pasta. It’s a simple Italian dish, and it was just the final details that we needed to figure out [for the menu].

For months and months and months, I’d go and buy guanciale and make it for my wife. For me, that dish has a real special spot in my heart and I still make it for my wife.

Exterior window with gold lettering reading 'Bada Bing Dining Club'.

Brendan splits his time across Rabble’s various venues, including their Italian restaurant, Bada Bing Dining Club. Photo: Rabble Group.

What is your food philosophy?

Keep things simple and know when and how to season properly. A lot of people tend to under-season. When you’re seasoning – with salt, in particular – it’s not only using the correct amount, but it’s also using it at the right time for the dish. This was one of the things I was taught early in my career by Erkin Esen from when I worked with him at Ottoman Cusine through to working at Pomegranate.

When you’re learning when you should season for each dish, it’s down to taste. The more you do it, the better you’ll be at it.

Where are you travelling next?

We’re going on a little Sydney trip this weekend. It’s my daughter’s sixth birthday, so we’re taking her there. She really wants to go to Bella Brutta in Newtown, which is a great pizza venue.

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What food are you always making?

My favourite style of cooking is slow cooking. I like anything low, slow and tasty since I like to spend a bit of time cooking when I have a day off or can do it on the weekend. My family loves a good Moroccan tagine. My daughter is always asking for it!

I also always find myself going to a good soy sauce or a nice sherry vinegar. I love making sauces and dressing and bits and pieces out of what’s in the fridge.

Where do you dine out for special occasions?

In Canberra, I like to visit my good friends at Nicky’s in Dickson whenever I have time. They make a very good breakfast. My go-to takeaway meal is laksa – I love it! I used to go to Dickson Asian Noodle House, but we get it now from the Asian Noodle House in Woden. It’s just down the road, so we duck down and get a takeaway.

Green A-frame sign reading NICKYS in bold white print.

Brendan recommends Nicky’s if you’re looking for a good brekkie to start your day right. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

What are your non-negotiable ingredients on a burger?

I’ll start with mustard, and add cheese and pickles. How could you go wrong?

Who is your biggest culinary influence?

That’s Erkin Esen. Erkin and his wife Eva, the front-of-house manager at Pomegranate, are very good friends.

I’ve worked with many head chefs, but Erkin was the first one who was always there. He was a great manager, had time for everyone, and I learnt so much from him. As a kid coming up through the industry, I definitely looked up to him – and I still do.

An easy one to finish – what’s your go-to coffee order?

In the morning, I’ll start with a little espresso at home and then have a small, extra shot latte at work.

Rabble Group’s venues in Canberra include Bada Bing Ding Club, Al’s Deli and Diner and Fun Time Pony in Civic, Assembly (The People’s Pub) and Corella Restaurant and Bar in Braddon. Their opening hours and locations are available online.

Original Article published by Claire Sams on Riotact.

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