17 May 2024

Five minutes with Sean Baker, B-Side and INTRA PRVN

| Claire Sams
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Three men in tan t-shirts pose naturally in front of textured wall

Co-founders Sean Baker and Nick Wood, along with chef Steven Hahnen, are three of the men behind venues in Campbell and Braddon. Photo: Stevie Reinhart.

Who are you?

My name is Sean Baker. I’m a co-owner of B-Side, a cafe and wine bar in Braddon, and INTRA PRVN in Campbell.

What are three facts about you?

I play field hockey for the Canberra Chill. I’ve been playing hockey since I was four years old, so it’s a big part of my life. I think I’d like to become a winemaker when I’m older, and I don’t like public speaking.

How did you get involved in the hospitality industry?

I’ve worked in hospo since I was about 15 or 16. It was a casual catering job during school, which eventually turned into a cafe job.

As an adult, I got into the coffee scene, especially while living in Melbourne for a few years. I really enjoyed the environment. I always knew I wanted to open my own business, but I never really knew what that would be until the opportunity came up with Nick [Wood] to open the shop in Campbell.

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What is your food philosophy?

[Co-owner Nick Wood and I] wanted to bring a new type of venue to Canberra. Before the Campbell shop opened, we always had this feeling that many cafes in Canberra copied and pasted stuff from each other. That was always the goal from the start – to bring something new.

Something different that we think we bring is the restaurant-style service, which our teams do effectively at both venues. We took a lot of inspiration from European bistro-style restaurants and daytime eateries. We enjoyed the concept of long lunches and having nice meals at a cafe in what is kind of a restaurant setting. You get the service, the coffee, the food and the wine, all to a high standard in a space that looks unique.

A shelf of products

There are plenty of goodies available at INTRA PRVN. Photo: INTRA/Facebook.

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

I use a ridiculous amount of garlic and salt in everything. I have bags of vacuum-sealed garlic in the fridge. We buy it in bulk, and I use it in everything, in any savoury dish. You can never have too much garlic. I also use an unhealthy amount of salt in everything!

Where are you travelling next?

I’m heading overseas, probably in August, and I’m looking to play hockey for a professional team in either Belgium or Holland. The season is split into two or three months, either side of Christmas, so I’ll go over for a couple of months, come back, and then return again.

I’ll also visit my partner, who is working overseas at the moment.

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What TV show or movie are you watching right now?

I’m absolutely smashing through The Sopranos. I’ve never watched it before, but it’s definitely worth watching. It’s an all-time great.

Who are your biggest influences?

Bar Rochford. A lot of people mention this venue when they come to talk about hospitality in Canberra, but Nick Smith has certainly played a big influence on the wines that people in venues are drinking. My sister, Caitlin Baker, is definitely a big inspiration on the service side of things. She’s the floor manager at Such and Such.

Both pay attention to detail, and we try to recreate the level of service they provide.

A bacon-and-egg roll

Sean says both INTRA PRVN and B-Side were inspired by European-style restaurants where diners can sit and take their time. Photo: INTRA/Facebook.

What was your dream job as a kid?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a physiotherapist because I spent a lot of time around sports. It seemed like a natural thing to do, but I definitely didn’t get the ATAR for physiotherapy. I thought about going through other routes through university to get there, but I’d started to really enjoy the hospitality industry and went with that instead.

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

Always just a flat white. If it’s a venue I like, I’ll get an espresso occasionally.

B-Side is located at G01/35 Lonsdale Street in Braddon and is open from 7 am to 2:30 pm, Monday to Friday, and from 8 am to 2:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday. INTRA PRVN is located at 30/12 Provan Street in Campbell and is open from 12:30 pm to 8 pm, Thursday to Saturday.

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