You know Ben Shewry as the driving force behind Attica, Melbourne’s World’s 50 Best-feted fine diner; as one of the stars of the breakout first season of Chef’s Table on Netflix; and as the ambassador of the recently launched Good Fish Project, an initiative of the Australian Marine Conservation Society to get the country eating more sustainable seafood. This month, it’s your chance to get to know the New Zealand-born chef as a DJ when he spins vinyl and makes pizzas as part of Si Paradiso’s Pizzeria Henri Charles event.
Although Shewry has only recently begun popping up behind the turntables – in Melbourne he played at the March closing party of Ramblr and is on the bill for Cutler & Co’s 10th birthday later this year, plus he spun records at the 2018 MAD Symposium in Copenhagen – he began DJing in his early teens alongside next-door neighbour “Doctor Rock” at country halls and school discos throughout rural New Zealand.
What can guests expect to hear when Shewry takes to the decks? While his set is still a work in progress, Shewry is looking forward to sharing some acquisitions from a recent trip to America. (He says he’s heavily into ’70s Zambian rock right now, but – as always – will be bringing some records by Melbourne and New Zealand artists to Perth). Like most DJs, Shewry has a far-reaching record collection and is more than happy to talk music (not while he’s playing, however). He just has one non-negotiable.
“I don’t take requests,” he says ahead of his first DJ gig in Western Australia. “I don’t get paid when I DJ, so I can’t possibly be asked to play requests. That’s my one hard-and-fast rule.”
In addition to playing a one-hour set, Shewry will create a limited-edition pizza – again, a work in progress – which will be available on the night. The prognosis is just as good on the beverage side of things, with Si Paradiso’s (already impressive) drinks selection to be bolstered with a range of special by-the-glass pours.
Playing disco records alongside Shewry on the night will be Tom Van Beem, bar manager at Wines of While, and Broadsheet Perth editor Max Veenhuyzen, who’s spinning an hour of all-Australian funk and soul 45s. The Si Paradiso house jazz band will also be performing, with regularly programmed Friday night music to follow.
Although Shewry admits he isn’t a professional DJ, he believes there’s one area the pros need to collectively improve on.
“Lift your dress game,” he says. “I might not be very good at spinning these 180-gram black discs, but at least I’m looking good while doing it.”
Pizzeria Henri Charles starts at 6pm on Friday May 31 at Si Paradiso. Entry is free.