Damien Brassel knew he wanted to be chef from the age of five.
Twenty-six years on, he’s garnered an impressive reputation in the global hospitality scene, having worked with some of the world’s leading chefs including Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsey, Marco Pierre White, Patrick Guilbaud, Pascal Sanchez and Martin Heirerling among others.
He lists Blumenthal and Heierling as “big inspirations” in his career.
“I came back to Australia with Martin Heierling. He was my culinary director at Rockpool. He has shaped my career in a lot of ways, especially from the business side of things, which I think every chef has to understand. If you don’t understand the business you can’t run it.”
Today, Brassel is the Executive Chef at Cafe del Mar, a Darling Harbour-side venue in Sydney, where he has overhauled the menu and introduced a modern menu inspired by the Mediterranean palate.
The menu is clean and produce driven and features fresh seafood sourced directly from Sydney’s famed Fish Markets.
“That’s been the great part with Cafe del Mar — we’re so local to the fresh seafood at the Fish Markets.”
Blumenthal’s creative influence is clear in the dessert portion of the menu, with Brassel introducing a selection of intricate after dinner treats, inspired by Cafe del Mar’s sweeping views over the harbour.
The Golden Moon, a highlight of the sweets portion of the menu, features a sphere of white chocolate, mascarpone cream, chocolate crumble, raspberry jelly and coffee sauce. The decadent dessert is served on dry ice and adds to the drama.
Brassel said: “The opportunity to create amazing plating is like being an artist.”
“People eat with their eyes. It’s drama on the table — like a show.”
However, Brassel’s personal favourite on the menu is the Chocolate Sunset which is comprised of milk chocolate mousse, salted caramel and roasted almond powder.
The impressive menu is available for large groups and corporate events, with Brassel insisting that his team will put in the same level of care and consistency to the plating for that extra ‘wow factor’.
“The functions at Cafe del Mar are unique. You just walk in here and you can see it’s all ready. You don’t have to bring a thing.
“You’ve got a great view, a great wine list, and great service. And the food? The food just speaks for itself.”
Click here to learn more about Cafe del Mar.