Jimmy Richardson has been announced as the new executive chef at celebrated James Street restaurant Gerard’s Bistro.
Richardson will launch his first menu when Gerard’s reopens next month after an extensive refurbishment.
Richardson was most recently executive chef at Leonard’s Bar & Bistro in Brisbane’s CBD. He has also held senior roles in Sydney at The Bridge Room, Shangri-La Sydney’s Altitude Restaurant, Cafe Paci, Annata and Park Hyatt Sydney.
The Gerard’s Bistro announcement marks a return to the restaurant for Richardson, after he previously worked as head chef under former executive chef Adam Wolfers.
He said the brief from Gerard’s owner Johnny Moubarak is to pursue more traditional Middle Eastern flavours.
“Johnny wants to explore the flavours he would experience at home, but in a restaurant,” Richardson said.
“[The aim is] to simplify the food slightly, but at the same time keep that standard of where it was at … take the classics and give them a lift without straying too far from what the cuisine is.
“We’re going to focus mainly on the Levant region [modern-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Egypt and Turkey]. Because of my connection to Persian food, there’ll be a couple of touches of Persian.”
Scottish-born Richardson was introduced to Middle Eastern cuisine via a Persian brother-in-law – “his mum would cook … proper home-style, no fanciness, just good flavours” – and his first head chef role was at Embers Mezze Bar, a Lebanese restaurant in Darlinghurst.
“So I had a basic understanding, but working under Wolfie took it a step further. He really knew his stuff with his Jewish heritage.
“I think people have this narrow understanding of Middle Eastern food – that it’s an arid desert where nothing grows but dates and spices. But the produce and flavours are incredible.”
“Jimmy’s really good at reimagining a dish while staying true to its roots,” Moubarak said.
“You can only do that by understanding the flavour and structure of the cuisine.
“He understands the history of a dish, its profile and its story, and that gives him the confidence to reimagine it.”
Richardson’s food will be served in a Gerard’s Bistro reimagined by in-demand designer and architect Jared Webb.
Webb previously worked for Richards & Spence and had a hand in several of the acclaimed architecture firm’s projects, including Sushi Room, SK Steak & Oyster and Same Same.
The new Gerard’s will be rendered in a warm minimalism intended to reference the Levant. The kitchen is also being refurbished but will retain its focus on wood fire and charcoal cooking.
Gerard’s Bistro is one of Brisbane’s most influential modern restaurants, and has evolved with the local dining scene over the course of its 11-year existence. Agnes and Anyday chef and co-owner Ben Williamson made his mark during the restaurant’s early days with his progressive interpretations of Middle Eastern food.
After Williamson’s departure in late 2018, Moubarak hired star Sydney chef Wolfers (formerly Est, Marque, Monopole, Yellow, Ételek), who channelled his Ashkenazi and Sephardi backgrounds to push the Gerard’s menus in new directions.
Wolfers left the restaurant in March. It closed in June for refurbishment, and was scheduled to reopen in mid-to-late October.
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