What makes a Legend? My business partners of 17 years Marilyn & Francis Domenech and the co-owners of Bretts Wharf that’s what, they are now officially legends, thanks to their most recent award from The Good Food Guide 2013. Dining at Baguette Bistrot & Bar has always in my view been one of life’s pleasures & my recent experience on Mother’s Day was no exception. I wanted to share with you a chat I had with Marilyn & Francis on this outstanding achievement.
Firstly, thank you for being such wonderful business partners and role models to not only myself but to countless aspiring chefs, managers, waiters and barman. I think it would be difficult to find someone who has been involved in hospitality here in Brisbane that has not either heard of you, worked for you, known someone who did or hoped to work for you, Marilyn & Francis Domenech you are legends!
Congratulations on your most recent award at the Good Food Guide 2013 where you received the Legends Award. How do you feel about that?
Happy we’re still around to be recognised by our peers! But also thankful that we still work in an occupation we love – we constantly meet interesting people and are surrounded by good food and wine.
You have owned Baguette now for 37 years and co-owned Bretts Wharf for 17 years. You started both these restaurants and along the way gathered a huge & loyal group of followers. What motivated you to open Baguette & Bretts Wharf?
When we opened Baguette there were not many options to dine out in Brisbane. We saw an opportunity to do something different to the rather staid restaurants here at that time. With Bretts Wharf, Francis had always wanted to have a seafood restaurant on the river and when the site at Hamilton was developed, it was like a dream come true.
What do you think Baguette & Bretts Wharf will be best remembered for?
Well Bretts (sadly closed now) will be missed by many, many people. Our favourite times there were Sunday lunch on the river terrace – sunny Brisbane, on the water with friends and family … and great seafood. For Baguette we hope that we’ll be remembered for welcoming generations of local families, and introducing many innovations in dining to Brisbane.
If you couldn’t dine at Baguette what would be your favourite Restaurant & Bar?
Tartufo at Emporium, Gusto da Gianni at Portside, Sake in the city and Suncrop Chinese Restaurant at Sunnybank.
If you could do one thing over in your life , what would it be?
Find more time to spend with friends; a restaurant is a demanding mistress!
What is the secret to a happy life?
I’m still working on that one …
Who’s had the greatest influence on you & food and why?
Initially, the Michelin starred chefs of France. In the early days of Baguette we frequently travelled to France to gain inspiration and knowledge. Then in the 1990s we invited a number of prominent Australian chefs (Stephanie Alexander, Maggie Beer, Damien Pignolet, Philip Searle and Serge Dansereau) to be guest chefs at Baguette. Their generosity (with their knowledge) and professionalism had a profound effect on how we wanted to run our kitchen and our business.
What principles have guided how you have done business?
Restaurants can be a cut-throat world but we believe in treating our staff like family, and customers deserve every respect we can bestow, because without them we are nothing. And absolute honesty in everything we do.
If there was one piece of advice you would give to someone who wanted to own a restaurant what would it be?
Take off the rose-coloured glasses, and do a tough business plan with the best experts you can find.
Finally Your perfect meal?
A platter of the freshest Queensland seafood on the Brisbane River with family and friends – a chilled glass of French Sancerre and the sun shining.
Sounds like the secret to a happy life!