Philip Johnson, E'cco Bistro

Being comfortable in your own skin is what I consider success ...

Seventeen years ago New Zealand-born Philip Johnson embarked on a journey that would lead him to be one of Brisbane’s (and Australia’s) most recognised and celebrated chefs. After winning the Remy Martin Cognac/Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year award two years into running e’cco bistro, Philip knew he was on to a good thing. Now Philip is taking his sure yet simple approach to food, and expanding his gourmet repertoire to include two new ventures located at One One One Eagle Street. The flagship venue, Bistro One Eleven will provide city dwellers and visitors alike with breakfast, lunch and dinner, with simple yet wholesome dishes like toasted granola, organic yoghurt, braised rhubarb and coconut gracing plates of a morning, winding into shares plates and mains from midday. One One One will also be home to Phil’s Espresso One Eleven, serving up sweets and savouries to accompany a morning cup of Allpress coffee. The Weekend Edition caught up with this acclaimed chef and six-time author to chat about his weekend essentials.

How do you like to start your weekend?
Breakfast at Ponycat on Brunswick Street, New Farm. The food, coffee and staff are all fantastic.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Saturday morning?
Walk off my breakfast!

How do you like to unwind?
Motorsport. I’m a huge fan, always have been. I come from a family of three generations of motor garages. I used to participate but now I’m happy to watch.

What are your essentials for a well-spent weekend?
Well I often work on a Saturday night, otherwise I like to visit new restaurants and bars around Brisbane. I also enjoy a late night visit to a great live music venue in Fortitude Valley, The Zoo. 

What’s something you’ve been meaning to do on the weekend but haven’t got around to yet?
Cocktails & bar snacks at The Lark in Paddington.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Sunday evening?
Takeaway food, maybe indian or thai, then crash on the lounge and pray there is something worth watching on TV.

What are you looking forward to next weekend?
Melbourne Formula 1, courtesy of Mumm Champagne.

What are you reading at the moment?
Birdsong. An amazing story about WW1 and the tragedy of war, but also involves love, hope and the power of human spirit.

What inspires you?
When I work with young chefs that are more gifted then I ever was at their age.

What was your childhood dream?
To be a formula 1 driver.

What has been your greatest achievement?
Winning Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year, the only true national restaurant award. E’cco was only two years old at the time. We have now been here for nearly 17 years. We are still the only Queensland restaurant to have won that award in over 25 years.

What is success to you?
I think to live a long, healthy and happy life is success. Money and fame isn’t success. Being comfortable in your own skin is also what I consider success.

What are your words of wisdom?
Always treat people as you would wish to be treated yourself.

Only a local would know that … Brisbane is the most liveable city in Australia.


Perk up … Canvas bar, Woolloongabba
Relax … A concert at River Stage
Dine … Ortiga at Fortitude Valley for amazing Spanish food
Indulge … Ikatan Spa, Noosa Heads
Shop … Books for Cooks, Melbourne
Catch-up … Sardine Tin, Southbank
Be inspired … An early drive through Mount Glorious


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