When Ben Sears was working at Cutler & Co, the “biggest highlight” was when director Quentin Tarantino came in for dinner. Throughout his career, Ben has picked up quite a collection of memorable experiences – from the time he worked at Michelin-starred L’enclume, with its remote location (and tourist-magnet appeal as home of the sticky toffee pudding) to his burnout from having to make The Age’s Dish of the Year way too many times, and his final spell as head chef at Claude’s, when it closed after 37 years.
“That was one of the weirdest services I’ve ever done – by far,” he says.
In this podcast, he also talks about the low-budget and punk way that he opened up Moon Park with his partner and co-head-chef Eun Hee An and Ned Brooks, their business partner and floor manager. It definitely involved a visit to K-Mart.
Ben jokes that their first patrons were really just “Ned’s friends” and downplays Moon Park’s food as “Korean nonna food, gussied up for the masses” – but their venture ended up being shortlisted for Best New Restaurant by Good Food Guide and Time Out Sydney and the chefs were also nominated for Best New Talent in the Gourmet Traveller Awards.
We also chat about Korean food and culture (including the amazing traditions of Pepero Day and Black Day – and how Korean food is about a zillion years ahead of the game) and we also bring up Kim Jong-Un’s haircut once or twice.
And finally, Ben shares his favourite places to eat and drink in town – including the place he name-checks as “the best restaurant in Sydney”.
And thank you to all the people who’ve said nice things about the podcast and spread the word in the iTunes store and elsewhere. It makes the sleep-delaying edit sessions worth it (this episode was finished and uploaded at 4am)!