Damien Pignolet is a most organised and careful chef. His menu design and work list for the Mietta's dinner was thoughtful and considerate. It was a fitting reflection of Damien's normal work habits, and the reason that his restaurants have been critically acclaimed, and consistently successful.
For many years, Claude's, which Damien took over in 1981, was the epitome of the ideal "French" restaurant in Sydney. It won all the major awards, and continues to win high acclaim in the hands of its current chef, Tim Pak Poy, who worked with Damien at Claude's after receiving his initial training and development from Cheong Liew in Adelaide.
Meanwhile, Damien has developed Bistro Moncur into the perfect "French" bistro of Sydney. It is a constantly busy, consistently good business within the Woollahra Hotel. He is also devoting energies to an even later project - The Sackville in Balmain.
Damien is obsessed with clarity. He loves to ensure that everything is explained, understood and fits within an appropriate framework. His words before and after the dinner at Mietta's gave a frank and careful insight into the planning of the menu, and into the equally painstaking planning of his restaurants.
He explained how his food was very reminiscent of France, of his own gastronomic experiences, of his 13 years at Claude's, and also of what he is currently doing at Bistro Moncur. He delivered his descriptions without pontification, and without mystery.
Afterwards, Damien talked about the essence of a restaurant. And while all chefs in this series were asked to discuss their culinary journey and to talk about the state of Australia's culinary art, it was only Damien who chose to discuss the state of the restaurant art.
A 1999 interview (and recipes) with Damien Pignolet, and Damien in 1991. A review of Bistro Moncur.
Salad of cauliflower remoulade baby beetrot and cucumber
Chartreuse of swordfish
Pear and green peppercorn souffle
Oysters and watercress
Guinea fowl and cepes, salad of endive, confit of guinea fowl
Potato pancakes with Sevruga caviar and Damien's salmon