If you want to learn how to cook an unbelievable braised beef stir-fry just like you’ve had at Melbourne’s most insanely impossible to get into restaurant, Chin Chin, you’d better block out the next three minutes because we’re at home with CC’s Executive Chef Benjamin Cooper. In which he also explains his wrist-weapon of choice and offers a theory on why chefs are so often into watches.
The backstory – how did this happen?
I first met Benjamin Cooper in another life. My publishing company had won the gig to publish the Chin Chin restaurant cookbook. To have any sense of why it was kind of a big deal for a little indie publisher like us, you basically have to try and go to the restaurant (in Melbourne) sometime. The fact is, you pretty much can’t. Even with a no-booking policy, you’re often having to queue for so long that by the time you get in, it’s another meal altogether.
At the centre of all the noise, the energy and the intensely flavoured street food is big bad Ben Cooper – head chef, chilli-fiend, watch lover. Ben’s star has risen with the restaurant; a stint as a guest chef on Masterchef Australia and Chin Chin’s foot traffic of around 7,000 people a week has turned him into a household name in Australia. But he hasn’t forgotten his roots. Meaning he took our call. And, better still, he invited us over for lunch to get a cooking lesson and the sort of home meal you’d go out for.
Ben and I have stayed in touch since the book and he’s put up with me pushing the friendship by asking to skip the line every time I need a kickass jungle curry. We’ve talked watches over the years. Ben’s ‘first’ was a Breitling, which is lying busted in a drawer awaiting repair. His second is the Hublot Big Bang he wears today. In the first of two videos featuring the culinary boss, it’s all about what Ben does best – blast tastebuds with fire and flavour. The second video, coming soon, tells the story of his Hublot and why he loves it. Bon appetite!