Restaurateur Emma Darrouzet: ‘I Started my Business to Honour my Mother’

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From one ending came a new beginning.

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Business partners can meet in the least likely of places. The Skimm’s founding duo Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin bonded over a shared love of artichokes while studying in Rome; Ben (Cohen) and Jerry (Greenfield) – the legends responsible for the heavenly pairing of cookie dough and ice-cream – met running (admittedly slowly) around the track in seventh grade gym class; and Google’s Sergey Brin was Larry Page’s tour guide on his visit to Stanford as a prospective computer science student.

For this pair – Bouche on Bridge co-founders Emma Darrouzet and Harry Stockdale-Powell – the meeting of minds happened to be a scuba diving boat off the coast of Manly in Sydney.

Being a teacher and a chef (respectively) they both had some time off in January last year and randomly – or perhaps serendipitously – were teamed up to be dive buddies. They quickly discovered a mutual passion for food and began chatting endlessly about recipes and restaurants. Another catch-up was scheduled for a month later but tragedy intervened, as the day they were due to meet Emma received a phone call with the shattering news her mother had taken her life.

“My mother absolutely loved food. She taught me how to cook and how to appreciate food and ingredients, and my whole life all my friends and family would say ‘you should open a restaurant, you should go on Masterchef’. After Mum’s death, I came into some money and I really wanted to do something with it – a project that would honour her memory but also fulfill some of my own dreams,” Emma tells Collective Hub. And that she did with the help of her new epicurean scuba friend, Harry.

bouche-5-jpegMonths later – after much had changed for both Emma and Harry (who had since left a top job as chef at Rockpool), they arranged to meet again and picked up their conversations and visions about opening a restaurant, but doing it the right way – their way – without all the extra side servings of pretentiousness. Bouche on Bridge in Sydney’s CBD was born. The pair decided to place a huge emphasis on quality local produce and, as importantly, on staff wellbeing – an issue close to both of their hearts.

With a brand mission that extends beyond food, they are set to launch The Daisy Darrouzet Foundation in 2017. Its aim, Harry explains, is for “10 to 20 per cent of chefs to be those with Aspergers, autism or people who need a stable kitchen environment to learn in. This is one of the reasons we set this restaurant up. We want to generate awareness for mental health.”

bouche-3-jpegAnother cause they champion through Bouche on Bridge is sustainable food practice. “We are committed to sourcing local and Australian ingredients from farmers, partners and suppliers that we have built meaningful relationships with,” says Harry. “We exist to create a dining experience where passion and purpose come together, both for our customers and for our staff.”

The result is a unique and clearly coveted casual fine dining offering. No frosty waiters insisting on introducing overly ambiguous courses. Rather, Bouche on Bridge’s menu is clear and adaptable – with a stunning array of dishes from farm, earth and sea.

Emma and Harry’s whole formula is perfectly simplistic: amazing food, world-class wine, good company and easygoing atmosphere makes for a fantastic meal. But don’t let their seemingly simple philosophy fool you – the utmost thought, effort and TLC has been spent on making Bouche on Bridge what it is.

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“We wanted to embark on a [thorough] research process to ensure that we put our money where our mouth was and showcase the best produce we could to support Australian producers,” concur Emma and Harry.

This approach has certainly made for a seriously Instagrammable menu (special shout-out to the divine crowd-favourite of the chocolate, hazelnut and malt dessert) but we get the feeling that isn’t the co-founders’ prime agenda – exceptional taste, amiable service, genuine sustainability and greater social impact come first and foremost.

 

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