25 July 2023

Five minutes with Genessis Sierra Cortes, Braddon Merchant

| James Day
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three people standing in restaurant

Restaurant manager Maia Pham, food and beverage manager Genessis Sierra Cortes and sommelier Lachlan Hoyle. Photos: Braddon Merchant.

Who are you?

My name is Genessis and I work at Midnight Hotel as a food and beverage manager.

I came to Australia 10 years ago from Guadalajara in Mexico, studied hospitality management, and ever since I have been working in hotels all over Australia.

What is Braddon Merchant?

It’s our restaurant based in the hotel lobby, where we serve modern Australian cuisine focused on produce and seasonality. The restaurant also offers all our guests an a la carte breakfast and soon a buffet as well, both of which are open to the public.

Our staff and service are all about sharing the story of the dishes, from where it was taken out of the ground to how it is prepared in our kitchen. We also have a big wine nerd around the restaurant who loves talking to guests about the pairings we do.

READ ALSO HECS, HELP indexation rise affects more than three million tertiary students

What’s a dish that you make that best sums up what Braddon Merchant does?

On our menu is a delicious tea-smoked quail with celeriac and coconut emulsions, finished off with chervil. Quail meat is very delicate, so our chefs have to take a lot of care throughout the process.

It takes us two to three days to get the quail ready to be served. From when it is brought in, to being de-boned, then smoked with jasmine tea, rice and brown sugar.

The reason I choose this dish is that it may seem simple when you look at it, but the amount of preparation that goes into it is huge.

quail dish

The tea-smoked quail with celeriac and coconut emulsions finished off with chervil.

What is an ingredient you can’t live without?

Fermented grape juice, but I think most people know that as wine!

What is your biggest culinary influence?

Although my background is not purely based in the kitchen, I would say Magnus Nilsson. He used to run a restaurant in Sweden called Fäviken, and he had a huge influence on me since I started to learn about him through his books.

I love his mentality in the way he sees produce, cooking and service delivery. He really believes in delivering an experience for his guests, but also appreciates the importance of how the food comes out and in what order.

What do you wish people understood about your job?

I want to make sure all my casual staff members understand that they are here to tell a story to the customer, from the student studying politics at ANU to my restaurant manager who wants to build her career here.

It’s very important to me that whenever someone walks into Braddon Merchant, they leave with knowledge of where their food came from, how it got here, and why it is special.

Often the relationship between our farmers and producers goes unknown, but I think they deserve more praise as they keep our work possible.

lamb cutlets

The grilled lamb cutlets are sourced from Boxgum Grazing, a regenerative farm based in Murringo NSW. It is served with pumpkin puree and garnished with radicchio leaves and rosemary jus.

Where do you dine out in Canberra for comfort food?

Outside of traditional Mexican, which many Australians have never really tried, my favourite cuisine is Vietnamese. So whenever I get a break from work I like to visit Bui’s restaurant in Kingston.

Where would you take out-of-town visitors to show off the best of Canberra?

Throughout the region’s wine district, we have some amazing produce from here that constantly surprises friends from overseas and myself with their quality.

When they get here I love to see the look on their face as they taste it. They never expected Australia, nor Canberra, to have such good fermented grape juice.

READ MORE Hot in the City: Bui’s Restaurant brings the flavours of Vietnam to Kingston

What’s a well-kept (or not so well-kept) foodie secret in Canberra?

There is a place called Ramen O in Belconnen, hidden away within the Churches Centre.

Holy moly it is so delicious and I love it, especially since it’s tucked away from the crowds.

Braddon Merchant is in the lobby of Midnight Hotel, located at 1 Elouera Street, Braddon.

The restaurant is open every day for its breakfast service from 6:30 am to 10 am during the week and 7 am to 10:30 am on weekends. Its evening service is open Tuesday to Saturday from 5 pm to 10 pm. Genessis is hosting a wine dinner on 11 August. More information can be found on the website.


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