Our Foodbuy Australia team are fortunate to support and work alongside both aspiring and established culinary leaders across many different industries. Whilst all are equally passionate about food, the way they translate their creativity into the consumer experience at each venue can differ significantly.
One such unique venue, and the culinary team within, is West HQ – a future-focussed entertainment gateway into Western Sydney encompassing health, leisure, restaurants and the new Coliseum theatre. The range of entertainment choices are matched with multiple culinary experiences, menus and amazing options – a visit is highly recommended, (westhq.com.au).
Amongst the great team at West HQ is General Manager Jean Philippe Secondis and we are delighted to share his personal journey, his relationship with food and how these influences shape the flair he brings to the business.
Born in Mauritius, Jean Philippe Secondis has a strong French culinary background and influence, working on the island in several five-star properties.
Having been fortunate to have worked across the globe in leading Michelin Star restaurants in France, Italy, Singapore, Japan, Dubai, Jean Philippe now leads the team at West HQ in Sydney, working in association with renowned chefs including Stefano Manfredi, Sean Connolly and “Chu” by China Doll.
Being able to bring his world-class experience and years in the industry to West HQ (including 33Bar and Grill), he thrives on driving culinary creativity at this leading destination and in showcasing the best that the West HQ has to offer.
Tell us a little bit about your industry history?
I had the privilege of working for the Pourcel Brothers, Jacques and Laurent, at their 3 Michelin star Restaurant in Montpellier France, Le Jardin des Sens as well as with Chef and Co-Owner René Redzepi at NOMA at The Star and with Michelin Star Chef, Richard Ekkebus at the Royal Palm in Mauritius.
Over my career, I was part of the grand opening of eight, five-star properties and was also a gold medallist of the MLA Black Box competition.
I have joined West HQ directly from Sydney Sofitel Darling Harbour as an Executive Sous Chef, bringing over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, and a spirit of innovation that the new destination has been searching for.
Prior to that I also held the position of Group Head Chef at The Duxton, Canberra, Group Executive Chef at Catalyst Group, Chef de Cuisine at The Star, Convention Centre, Penrith Panthers and Rose Hill Racecourse.
Where did your love of food come from?
It came from my love of eating and in experiencing global cuisines, flavours and cooking techniques with a big inspiration of mine being from my Mum’s cooking of Mauritian food.
Mauritian food is so close to my heart and I love being able to share it with friends and family in Australia and showcase our use of fresh produce, seafood, spices, and the cultural blend of the cuisine.
The cooking style is all about utilising a mix of spices. The island I come from sees a blend of cultures including Indian, Asian, Muslim and Chinese, all coming together to form what is known as Creole Cooking.
In our cooking we use a lot of local vegetables, seafood; being from an island it is always fresh and incredible, as well as fresh, hot chillies!
A favourite dish my mother would cook for me was a Creole Style Biryani with beef.
What has stuck with you as being key to becoming a great Chef?
Having been fortunate enough to travel the world through my work, I have been able to discover and experience so much about people, including what brings us joy and happiness, as well as what makes different cultures around the globe so special.
From this, I have experienced so many varied cooking styles, as well as eating and dining habits which I bring to my role at West HQ to offer a varied and engaging food offering at the venue.
Also, key in becoming a great chef is the understanding and importance of interacting positively with your peers and having a great work environment. Allowing each other to be creative and feel supported is key to a happy and successful team and the success of a venue no matter the size.
My experience and knowledge in French cooking; its elegance and refinement in style and execution as well as my years in banqueting and catering for large venues and groups is also integral to my role at West HQ.
Recommendations for favourite place to eat in Australia.
Sokyo at the Star with Executive Chef Chase Kojima.
I was fortunate enough to work with Chef Chase Kojima. The quality and level of execution that he puts out day after day has not changed over the past eight years.
Every time I visit, the flavours and presentation are exact, the service is perfect, the dining experience and dishes are consistent, and I love his mix of Western ingredients with the Japanese tradition.
For example, he combines truffle with traditional sushi and Japanese Duck with Foie gras. These are things you don’t experience in normal Japanese style cuisine and restaurants.
How do you relax and unwind?
Gardening is my passion, it’s a great way to relax and unwind, and it allows me the opportunity to spend quality time with my family.
I love caring for my flowers and growing in my garden at the moment is chilli from my country, a curry tree, and essential herbs such as thyme, parsley, chives and coriander.
What’s the secret to a great kitchen?
Teamwork and happy colleagues are vital.
What’s the one cooking implement/device you could not live without?
A good, sharpened knife – what we say in cooking is with an un-sharpened knife you can cut yourself, whereas a sharpened knife allows for precision, efficiency and showcases your produce in its best light.
What’s your favourite food?
Thai cooking is light, fresh, vibrant and quick to get a dish out, but never compromises on flavour and taste.
My favourite dishes include anything with a lot of flavours, that has a quick execution, as after a long day at work I don’t always feel like spending hours in the kitchen at home.
If I had to name one dish it would be Thai green curry chicken, which is full of stunning aromatics.
“It is an honour to drive the culinary creativity at a leading destination and showcase the best that West HQ has to offer.”
~Jean Philippe Secondis, General Manager – West HQ