[White text on a black screen reads Jacques Reymond, executive chef and owner, Jacques Reymond Restaurant. In the right hand corner, the logo for Gusto! A culinary history of Victoria appears.
A man in a white chef’s uniform embroidered with the words Jacques Reymond above the chest pocket sits in a restaurant. Behind him are tables laid with white tablecloths, napkins and wine glasses.]
Jacques Reymond: In the village where I was born, my grandfather … used to take this bag and he has his knives in there and he used to go to all the different houses and farms to process and kill the rabbits. So that was his work. That’s what he used to do and used to love. And when he saw that I had such a great interest in cooking, I was about ... when he gave me the bag, I think I was about 14 years old. And he gave it to me like if it was, you know, something very, very important to him. And he said, 'That’s my bag. In there there’s a couple of knives that I want you to keep always.'
[A portrait shows Jacques Reymond wearing his chef’s uniform and holding a leather bag on his lap.]
Jacques: And there is actually some knives in there which are still belonging to my grandfather. I opened the newspaper on the first Saturday we arrived and there was an ad for a chef, so I went to see. And that was a restaurant called Mietta’s in Brunswick.
[A black and white photo shows a younger Jacques Reymond and another chef standing with a dark haired woman, who holds menus emblazoned Mietta’s.]
Jacques: So I started there. Then they moved to the city in a place which was called Annabella, if I reckon. So I stayed there for two years. And after that, we, my wife and I, we opened our first restaurant in Richmond, in Lennox Street, which was a really interesting place on two levels. It was on the first floor. So we stayed there for about ... four to five years, I can’t really remember exactly. And then the lease was finishing and I didn’t want to stay there because the location was not really what I wanted to have. And the first apartment we had was very close to this house that we have now. It was just down the road. And I used to go by, past this beautiful mansion every day, and I said to my wife, 'Oh, you know, one day, I’ll get you this restaurant. I’ll get you this house.' She never believed me.
[In a restaurant kitchen, Jacques Reymond works with staff wearing long striped aprons. He speaks with two young men. Smiling, he walks from a bench.]
Jacques: I really love it. It’s my passion. I come here every day with great pleasure. I don’t feel obliged to go to work. I feel very happy to go to work.
[Staff work in the kitchen.]
Jacques: As soon as I walk in, all my staff smiles, greets me, we have a great atmosphere.
[A photo of the empty restaurant shows long white benches running along the yellow panelled walls. Elegantly set tables and chairs are placed along the benches. A table stands near a window looking out on a garden with a stone fountain and pillars.]
Jacques: Our restaurant seats 60 people and we employ 40 staff, so that’s quite a big ratio. But I think the big success has been that we’ve always treated our staff as family. This is a very, very strong family spirit enterprise. And we don’t have, really, you know, a big turnover of staff and all that. So by working all together, we have achieved a progression …
[Staff work in the kitchen. A waiter holding a silver tray is visible through a banister.
Near a stained glass door, silver plaques featuring fleur-de-lis read: Jacques Reymond, Relais & Châteaux. In the kitchen, vegetables lie on a bench. A staff member sharpens a knife.]
Jacques: … you know, year after year. And this is, I think, the secret of, you know, our success. In this restaurant, the Jacques Reymond restaurant, we have pretty much one supplier for one product. So the list of suppliers is huge. I love when a supplier comes with something new, with something different. It gives us, you know, some opportunity to create something different, create a new dish, and ... experiment another technique to work with the product. So this is what I really like. We use a lot of the indigenous products. For example, to replace … or to give some acidity to a dish or some sweetness, so instead of using vinegar, we would use some lemon aspen, we would use some red Davidson plums. These sort of things. So we are very, very much into indigenous, you know, natural product of our country. All around the world, there is no better product than what we have, you know, not just in Victoria, but all around Australia. From the earth, from the sea, you know, from the people who work really hard to get you the best product they can, it’s absolutely wonderful. I go to France every year. For me there is no better products there. No. I find better products actually here. Yes.
[White credits show on a black screen.
Senior producer: Andrew Barrie, Lightwell
Production assistant: Fiona McCallum, Lightwell
Editor: Steve McCallum
Direction and camera assistance: Antuong Nguyen
Cinematographer: Gus Kemp
Interviewer: Tracey Judd Iva (Gusto! exhibition curator)
Exhibition manager: Edwina Bartlem
Exhibition coordinator: Eleanor Adams
Jacques Reymond, interviewed at Jacques Reymond restaurant, Prahran
Concepts and research: Robert Heather, Tracey Judd Iva, Ann Carew, Edwina Bartlem, Anna Corkhill
Peter Wegner, Portrait of Jacques Reymond, oil on canvas, 2004. State Library of Victoria Picture Collection.
Rennie Ellis, Alain Chapel, Jacques Reymond and Mietta O’Donnell at Mietta’s Restaurant, Melbourne, gelatin silver photograph, 1987. Mietta O’Donnell Papers, State Library of Victoria Australian Manuscripts Collection © Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive.
Special thanks: Kathy Reymond and Gemma Gange, Jacques Reymond restaurant]
[The logo for Gusto! A culinary history of Victoria appears above the words A State Library of Victoria exhibition, 3 August 2012 – 28 April 2013. slv.vic.gov.au/gusto.
The logos of the State Library of Victoria and State Government of Victoria appear underneath.]
[Three lines of logos appear on a screen.
Sponsored by: City of Melbourne, William Angliss Institute.
Supported by: Markets of Melbourne.
Program partners: Melbourne Food & Wine Festival presented by Bank of Melbourne, Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, The Little Veggie Patch Company and The Sebel Heritage, Yarra Valley.]