Delving deeper into our October Chef of the month, we’ve sat down with Award-winning Chef, Ben Devlin, to find out more about his culinary background and enduring passion for Nordic cuisine.
Ben has carved out a long and successful career, with over 15 years of experience as a chef, working in Australia and internationally. In 2014, he won Queensland Good Food Guide’s Young Chef of the Year while working as head chef of Brisbane’s first three-hatted restaurant, Esquire.
His love for Nordic cuisine was inspired by his experience working at Noma in Denmark (renowned for its inventive avante-garde tasting menus). Noma is the flagship of “New Nordic” cuisine since 2004 and has once again been named as the best restaurant in the world in 2021.
Whilst Ben has a vast number of fine-dining credentials, his restaurant Pipit, is a refreshing step away from formalities. Ben has a particularly hands-on approach to work and this drives his desire to build things from the ground up, making the effort to create everything from scratch – including delectable smoked fish, exquisite Æblekage (apple cake) and fruity plum jam.
Having grown up in Byron Bay, Ben has a deep connection to the region and its community. Restaurant Pipit showcases the best of the Northern River's fresh, local produce, sustainable seafood, and wood-fired cooking. Much like Le Petit Brekkie, Ben focuses on serving food that is sustainably sourced, specifically his seafood. Having signed up for The Good Fish Project, Ben only uses species approved as sustainable by the Australian Marine Conservation Society.
Can you tell us a little about why you became a chef?
I grew up in Byron, and it was a high-school job at The Pass Cafe first washing dishes that led to helping with some food prep. I had really liked the people and environment of that kitchen and so at the end of school I moved to Brisbane for my chef studies/apprenticeship. My family says at a very young age I was also the type of kid who would eat anything!, so maybe the interest in tasting food started young too. Being hands-on and making things is a big part of why I became a chef and is still what drives me today
How would you describe the food and experience at Pipit?
Pipit is a fine-dining restaurant, showcasing the best of Northern River’s local produce, sustainable seafood, and wood-fired cooking. It is designed around an open-plan kitchen, that lets our guests see into the whole cooking process too. We offer a 6 or 7 course seasonal set menu.
An article once said "The food at Pipit actually tastes like the landscape around it" [*New York Times review 2021] and that's probably been one of the best compliments we've heard about what we have been trying to really do.
What do you love most about the food scene in the Northern Rivers?
The ingredients, produce and suppliers we have locally is amazing. The Northern Rivers also generally has a strong underlying sense of community and creativity which helps makes the food scene fun and diverse - it's supportive, so there's lots of people "giving it a go" from small pop-ups, artisan products, and different cuisines etc. Our region is a network of towns and most people will travel to neighbouring areas for good food so it feels like you are never really far from something great
What inspired your menu for the collaboration with Le Petit Brekkie?
After working in Denmark for a few years, I have always found their breakfast format memorable and enjoyable. Mostly centred on having rye bread and sides of cured meats and pickles.
This also showcases some of the things we also love to make at Pipit too like, cheese, cured meats, pickles, jams, etc.
What is your favourite weekend breakfast?
If I'm ordering at a cafe, I usually go Eggs Benedict with bacon and avo. 🥑
It is such an honour to collaborate with Ben and have him share his inspiration for Le Petit Brekkie’s Nordic breakfast. We’ve enjoyed Ben’s unique approach to breakfast and can’t wait to share what the owner of Pipit, Australia’s Regional Restaurant of the Year by 2020 Good Food Guide, has prepared for you.