“I arrived in London on Wednesday. On Thursday I was knocking on the restaurant door with my letter of recommendation. The head chef asked me to come for a trial on Friday, and that’s how I came to work with Gordon Ramsay!”
Executive Chef Clément is prepping food in the kitchen of Les Bistronomes’ Campbell home of one year. Deftly slicing pork, he remembers the moment he inadvertently scored a job in the kitchen of one of the worlds’ most (in)famous chefs.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working there,” he says. “It was 18-hour days and hard work, but a good learning curve and good for my résumé.”
He was born in Paris, but Clément’s true hometown is Lyon.
“It’s where my life really started and where my passion for food began. Lyon is the gastronomical capital of France. The food culture there is so strong; it is in every home. Each week you have food markets in the street with some of the best produce in Europe.”
For three years, Clément lived near Geneva in Switzerland to study hospitality. He worked in a Michelin star restaurant during this time; in fact, the owner promised him a job after he graduated. However, when Clément called about that job, the kitchen was full.
“The owner felt bad,” Clément recalls. “He said, ‘Give me five minutes, I’ll organise something for you'”.
Five minutes later, the phone rang. It was the chef, offering Clément a six-month contract at a three Michelin star restaurant. Clément jumped at the fabulous opportunity, but he’d thrown himself into the deep end too quickly and it was a tough engagement.
When the contract ended, Clément chose to work in a Lyonnaise bouchon (tavern) to finesse his chef basics. When, after two years, he started cheffing at a one Michelin star restaurant, Clément quickly helped it earn its second star.
The next step for the young Frenchman was to learn English and discover the world beyond France. His experiences in London were only the beginning. With further exploration in mind, Clément travelled to Australia on a working visa for a holiday. Instead, he found his second hometown.
In 2014, having spent two years as head chef at Sage and another two working at Waters Edge, Clement came to a decision: “It was time to do my own thing and make money for myself.”
The Campbell shops form a leafy cul-de-sac in the quiet, upmarket suburb, light-years from the parking nightmares experienced by diners when the restaurant operated in Braddon.
Today, Les Bistronomes’ cosy interior transports you to a modern alpine bistro in Europe with low hanging wooden beams, rich crimson and gold accents, and lots of little nooks for intimate dining.
In his own restaurant, Clément is all about paying attention to the little details, those special touches that make all the difference.
“Hospitality is my job, not just cooking. Hospitality is thinking about all the little things, the environment into which you are welcoming your customers. It is every little detail that adds to the customers’ experience,” he says.
In the kitchen, Clément and his chefs take French classics and give them a modern tweak. “We plate it pretty, too!”
Clément’s face lights up as he chats about the spring menu.
“A new menu is exciting after three months of cooking the same things. Even though we evolve our winter dishes as we go through the season, I am thrilled to get creative with spring vegetables. The asparagus is starting to come through, the artichoke and celeriac. We grow our own herbs and flowers out the back in a little raised garden.”
Clément assures me that crowd favourites like the Duck L’orange and the Beef Wellington will remain on the new menu.
Les Bistronomes launched dinner packages at the beginning of COVID-19 and due to their success, they will continue to be offered on their website.
Essentially, a dinner pack is a three-course dinner for two to enjoy in your own home. The entrées and the dessert are cold and ready to serve. The main course takes a little cooking from the customer. It comes with instructions and a link to a video where Clément demonstrates exactly how to finish your meal.
“The comments we have received have been amazing and our customers are so proud to show us their efforts,” he says.
In another avenue of expansion, Les Bistronomes is developing a catering option for corporate functions. As Christmas festivities loom on the near horizon, why not consider some French delicacies for your next event? Email queries at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 6248 8119 to learn more.
Les Bistronomes is located at 18 Blamey Place in Campbell. Lunch service runs from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm Tuesday through Saturday. Dinner service runs from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm Tuesday through Saturday.