Close Up with Sydney Sou Chef Brett Shorter

Tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Brett shorter, I an a Sou Chef at Bel Mondo Sydney. I grew up in a little country town in wellington next to orange, I moved to Mudgee in 2003 and started my apprenticeship there.The places I have worked include Newcastle, Canberra, Wollongong and Sydney. I have worked in some of the best restaurants in these places.

Where were you trained, and how difficult was your training?

There were a few places that have moulded me, hardest place by far was Astral Star City, high turnover of staff, 12 pm starts for a 2 hats restaurant and had to be ready at 5.30 maximum, working with good chefs and no room for error, everything fresh every day, it was great but mind numbingly hard.

For structure was Bel Mondo with Andy Ball, hard chef to work for, very strict, cleanliness god and as the sou chef had a lot of responsibility, although was for a good cause.

What is your favourite food memory?

My fav food  memory was Marsala braised duck with tagliatelle pasta.

When did you know you wanted to be a chef?

I knew in year 12 that  I wanted to be a chef , then trying to get a apprenticeship in Dubbo but found one in Mudgee instead.

Where do you get your inspiration when you design a menu?

I love food, I always will.  I see chefs change jobs but I know I can never change as this is who I am, when look for ideas for a menu.  I look at the season, trends, what my restaurant is (market) and freshness, for example: my restaurant is casual dining,  I study food trends’ people are aiming at, seasonal, freshness, availability.

“Simple rule, simplicity rules the world!”.

What is your favourite kitchen equipment?

There is on tool in the kitchen I love is the mandolin, cuts vegetables the perfect size every time and makes life easier, and anyone can create chef quality meals.

Mandolin kitchen gadget

Best cooking tip for a young apprentice just starting out?

For young chefs starting out simple advice, simplicity rules the world, just remember you can work anywhere and become great. It’s up to you, and the drive you have. Brett Graham from the Ledbury was an apprentice at Scratchlys in Newcastle, now is in the top 10 restaurants in the world.

Best piece of advice you would give a home enthusiast?

For people at home, best advice is get a glass of nice wine and let the flavours guide you, if you can read you can cook, and look at the recipe if you don’t like it change it, its you in control, not the book. 

Funniest kitchen incident?

Funniest moment ever, my best friend who I worked with at Bel Mondo, on his Trial day,  he put hot soup in the blender and hit pulse, the soup touched the roof and covered Andy, funniest part was that the same thing happened 2 days before to Andy with another of his Trial, I had to release my laughter in the cool room.  

Rabbit roulade with asparagus, carrot puree and mushroom puree

Who in the food world do you most admire.

When I was in Brazil last time  I’ve seen Alex Atala in Fortaleza, he was amazing, simple ideas, infusion and a really humble attitude, so by far he’s my inspiration, and for the fact that Alex has never worked in a top restaurants and he has one in the top 5 in the world. just AMAZING!    

Favourite foods to cook with?

My favourite food to cook with are fresh vegetables , tapioca, saffron, chili, kaffir lime leaves and exotic mushrooms, all great textures, individual flavours and match a lot of dishes as well if done correctly.  

Do you have a favourite cook book to recommend?

I really recommend Shannon Bennetts, My Vue. Shannon ALWAYS explains the basics very well and for up and coming chefs and home cooks it’s a bible, and for deserts anything with Claire Clarke from French Laundry, all her recipes are tested by every person in that kitchen to make sure it’s right.

Ham hock with sautéed scollops and popcorn puree

What is going to be the next big thing in the food world?

I have spent a lot of time in South America, there’s a lot of foods we have no idea about them here, that’s why food in the world is turning to Mexico and South America. Most chefs are getting on board with the same food and elements.

What do you think is the most challenging ingredient to work with?

As a chef most of the fears of ingredients are ironed out of you, but the one that makes me concentrate hard is pectin, found in most fruits, comes in powdered form and has to be heated perfect and correctly used makes the most amazing jellies. 

What do you like to eat when you’re at home?

When I’m at home, I and Natalia are massive Thai fans, fresh vegetables and curry, so my favourite dish would have to be Pad Prik Khing ,its full of flavour and with a glass of shiraz, Perfect.

Brett & Natalie

What is your next big thing?

My next thing will be catering company in Brazil, there is a market there for it, but 1 more year in Sydney.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

My favourite place in the world is, and I go there every year is Jericoacoara brazil in Ceara Brazil, its a coastal village, for windsurfing, reggae music, and amazing people. All the food is from the sea and land around the area, I could live there 100%.

What do you most love about your job

My favourite part of my job is when customers are happy and have a great night with the food and atmosphere, at the end of the day, the customer is always right, and I would bend over backward to make that happen.

Macerated strawberries,with balsamic jelly,

mint puree, broken pavlova and raspberry sorbet

If you had just one wish, what would it be?

If I had just one wish it would be in partnership with another person to create a South American tapas bar, with 100% flavour, great people and fun funky atmosphere, well I’m working on it.

Where do we find you and your cooking?

bel mondo restaurant The Rocks, Sydney 2000


All images are courtesy from  Mr Brett Shorter

Mandolin kitchen gadget:



Vinh Van Lam
the authorVinh Van Lam
Vinh Van Lam, co-founder of ArtSHINE, is a visionary art coach and entrepreneur with a passion for fostering creativity. With a diverse background in art and business, he brings a unique perspective to empower emerging artists, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic art industry through the innovative platform of ArtSHINE.

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