What it takes to cut it

Justin North talks about what makes a dish great.

New Zealand-born Justin North worked at some of the great restaurants in the world before he and his wife Georgia opened Bécasse in Sydney’s Surry Hills in 2001. The restaurant – and Justin – have been clocking up accolades ever since.

As well as opening Etch restaurant in Sydney, Justin has penned two cookbooks. Appearing in last night’s MasterChef celebrity chef challenge, Justin is also one of the resident experts on the MasterChef website, sharing the benefits of his formidable knowledge. This busy chef and restaurateur took time out to answer some of our questions below.

What attracted you to French cooking?

I was fortunate enough to work with some very talented and passionate chefs with a background in French cooking when I was training; their love and passion for their craft was an inspiration for me. I do think of French cooking that it is one of the most challenging but rewarding, enjoyable, of course romantic and technique based cuisine.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career?

There have been many, I like to keep challenging myself so consequently the challenges just keep getting bigger and bigger. Having said that - learning to run the business side of what we do has been very challenging.

What do you think makes a great dish?

Great ingredients, good technique, a refined palate, a relaxed but passionate cook.

When you're hiring chefs, what qualities are most important to you?

Attitude, passion, commitment, loyalty and a strong will to succeed.

What do you think about when you're choosing your food suppliers and why?

Consistency is the most important quality for us, as we cannot have our customers having varying quality with their meals, every single dish we produce must be of the highest standard. Our producers and suppliers need to be committed to producing a very high quality of produce embracing ethical and sustainable practices, as this is the basis of our restaurant philosophy.

What plans do you have for your restaurants and yourself in the future?

Continue to evolve and keep refining our restaurant and brands.