Rockpool Bar & Grill Head Chef Brendan Owens was destined to take the sweet path in restaurant kitchens initially, having a grandfather as a pastry chef before him.
Yet Brendan always had one foot in other kitchen sections – beef, fish, larder, grill. He believes it is the organisation and preciseness required of a pastry chef that set him up for his role as Head Chef Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth, as he pursued a career in hospitality.
Chef Brendan was born and raised in Perth. He always had an interest in food and cooking and awe of his mum’s homemade Beef Wellington and Lemon Meringue Pies. Brendan left school in 2005 at the age of 15. He went in search of career opportunities in hospitality. Brendan headed for an apprenticeship at the Weld Club in Perth – a well-to-do, member’s only club. There he learned “good structure and discipline” under Executive Chef Clayton Green, who is still at the Weld Club today. Chef Brendan remains in regular contact with him today.
Modern Pastry Training
Chef Brendan completed his apprenticeship in 2008. Seeking career development, he headed to Singapore where he worked at 2am Dessert Bar under Janice Wong. Janice was awarded Asia’s Best Pastry Chef in 2013 and 2014 by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
He learned how to work outside of his comfort zone, and in a modern pastry kitchen, under Janice’s direction.
Brendan began working at Restaurant Amuse, when he returned to Perth. He soaked up the establishment’s work ethic of always trying to improve. Brendan took that work ethic with him. He also made long-standing chef friends, including local boy Dave Pynt who now owns Singapore’s famed Burnt Ends.
Next, Chef Brendan moved to Melbourne where he worked at the fine diner Vue de Monde as a Pastry Chef. He worked his way up to Head Pastry Chef. Chef Shannon Bennett ‘’opened a door to endless opportunity” for him, whether it was working overseas with Miele cooking appliances or interstate doing pop-up dinners in Sydney’s Bondi Beach or in Tasmania.
Joining Rockpool Bar & Grill
Chef Brendan joined the Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth team as Head Pastry Chef in 2005. He took the reins as Head Chef in 2021, under the guidance of Culinary Director Corey Costelloe.
He manages the kitchen of the 180-seat restaurant. Brendan believes that 13 years focusing mostly on pastry set him up well to take on this role.
“Standards are incredibly high in the pastry section. Following a recipe means you have to be precise, and be incredibly organised,” Chef Brendan explains.
“In the wider kitchen, we have to bring that same level of organisation and preciseness. If you’re organised it’s smooth, and if it’s smooth, it’s fast.”
A Quest To Improve
Chef Brendan wants every day to be better than the one before, in the Rockpool Perth kitchen. His quest for continual improvement is evident in the produce he sources from local surrounds: plump ducks from Wagin, exceptional beef from the salt-sprayed grassy paddocks of Blackwood Valley Farms in Albany, truffles from dormer chef David Coomer, and seasonal fruit and vegetables from Pemberton and surrounds.
He is basking in the collaborative nature of Perth’s chef community, as a relatively new Head Chef.
Brendan explains: “The Perth restaurant scene is really starting to flourish. There are some really good chefs around at the minute and so many of them are happy to chat and build the alliance, progressively growing the culture of food and hospitality for the younger generation of chefs and front-of-house professionals.”
Check out our job opportunities here if you are interested in working alongside Brendan Owens, or the Rockpool Bar & Grill teams in Sydney or Melbourne