Brad Jolly, Alchemy Restaurant + Bar and G-Doggz
Surround yourself with people who can aid you in getting better at what you do ...
If you’ve ever pierced a fork into the exceptional cuisine that graces the plates at Brisbane City’s Alchemy Restaurant + Bar, or perhaps sunk your teeth into a late-night hot dog from G-Doggz Gourmet Hot Dogs & Bar on your way home from Fortitude Valley, you have Brad Jolly to thank. As head chef and co-owner of Alchemy and co-owner of G-Doggz, the entrepreneurial cooking talent has fed a wide cross-section of the Brisbane population. Throwing himself into his career from a very early age, Brad was gaining accolades for his cheffing skills as a teenager, which soon led him into the kitchens of esteemed international dining venues and eventually back to Australian shores. Brad and his wife Angelica first opened Lat 27 in Brisbane City, followed by Alchemy in 2005 and they’ve been pleasing local foodies ever since. The Weekend Edition dropped in to 175 Eagle Street this week to get the insider’s take on the Brisbane dining scene, seasonal produce and cooking for royalty.
You were gaining attention for your cheffing skills before you’d even reached your 19th birthday, what was the biggest challenge of working in a kitchen at such a young age?
Getting your chef to believe in what you do. Understanding that you’re responsible for everything that goes out the kitchen door.
We’ve heard that you worked under the personal chef to the Queen Mother – what can you tell us about the food preferences of the royals?
Everything was very old fashioned. You couldn’t go out on a limb and present new and different styles of food.
You’ve worked alongside Marco Pierre White, Eric Chavot and Jamie Oliver. What’s the best lesson these fellas instilled in you?
Work clean, be quick, and don’t over-complicate what you’re doing.
You’ve racked up some impressive achievements in the industry – including a gold medal at the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) – but what do you personally consider your career highlight?
I don’t have one career highlight – I’ve got a few. Meeting my wife Angelica while working, having two beautiful kids and owning a restaurant in the best city of all cities.
What drew you back to Australia?
My wife has lived all over the world. We agreed that Australia had a bigger opportunity if we ever wanted our own business. Ange agreed to move to Australia as long as it was near the water. I gave her the Brisbane River.
You opened Alchemy Restaurant + Bar in 2005. What can you remember about stepping into the incredible riverside building for the first time?
‘Can we really do it? How is this all going to come together?’ Then I looked out to the river and bridge, and thought ‘How could I not!’
You place strong emphasis on cooking with seasonal produce – what ingredients should Brisbane home-cooks be throwing in the pots this month?
Veal osso bucco is underused in Australian cooking but ideal for the cold winter months. Perfect with polenta.
After successfully servicing the high-end market with Alchemy, what made you want to take the more informal route with G-Doggz?
When the recession hit, we thought that a good business person has to diversify. We believed that we could still cook great food and sell it at lower price and still get the satisfaction that you did a good job.
Is this the direction you see the Brisbane dining scene heading?
I think Brisbane diners are every day wanting more for their dollar. I believe fast junk food is out and we’re looking at more healthy style dining but still wanting the speed and ease of fast food.
How have you seen the local dining scene change over the past decade?
Brisbane has grown enormously. We have so many more options than before. I don’t think you can say there’s nowhere to eat in Brisbane! We have so many great restaurants.
You own and operate Alchemy Restaurant+ Bar with your wife, what advice can you share for those mixing business with family?
Make sure that each of you specialise in one area. Ange and I work well together. We both have great respect for each other. I also know that she is always right!
What are the key ingredients for your happiness?
We can’t make every customer happy. We critique ourselves every time we walk into our restaurant. Sometimes you just need to let the negative things said about you go, and you manage to find happiness in the little things you do.
What do you believe is worth fighting for?
When I was younger I would get really upset if someone said they didn’t like their meal. Now I know it’s not worth fighting over it. I take the comments they give us and use them to be a better chef and improve my restaurant. So I suppose other than my family, not much. I’m a lover, not a fighter.
What’s your personal definition of success?
When I’ve turned out 150 meals and all the customers and staff are happy at the end of the night.
What are your words of wisdom?
Surround yourself with people who can aid you in getting better at what you do. You are never too old to learn.
FAVOURITE WEEKEND SPOT TO:
Perk up … Harveys Bar and Bistro in Fortitude Valley.
Relax … My back deck.
Dine … Sono in Hamilton.
Indulge … Berardo’s Restaurant and Bar in Noosa.
Shop … Fruit and vegetables from Brisbane Markets Rocklea.
Catch up … Morningside AFL ground.
Be inspired … Spice Temple in Sydney.