Skye Faithfull is taking the relaunch of Balthazar personally. Not that the restaurant’s new head chef has anything against this fine-dining veteran – far from it, in fact. Faithful finished her apprenticeship here and even ran the kitchen for three months after chef Scott Brannigan left to open Bread in Common, but after being diagnosed with breast cancer, she was forced to hang up her apron and put her health before her career. Now she’s back and ready to finish what she started.
“It’s unfinished business for me,” she says. “When I had to give up my job at Balthazar, it broke my heart. Between all the surgeries and chemotherapy, that year was a pretty low point for me, so to be able to come back and have a second chance is pretty unexplainable. I’m really enjoying every moment and working with what is fast becoming one of my favourite [kitchen] crews.”
Together with the restaurant’s new partners, Dan Morris and Emma Ferguson of No Mafia in Northbridge, Faithful has big plans for the much-loved dining room. She tells Broadsheet what’s on the cards and, most crucially, what’s on the menu.
Broadsheet: The new Balthazar is a lot more casual than the original. How did you approach writing the menu?
Skye Faithfull: A few different ways. Seasonality is obviously the big one, and specific products that I like to use, like Sunnydale milk and yoghurt, come into play. Good products and ingredients are always going to be important, as is trying to focus on what people want to eat and the vibe of diners.
BS: I’ve managed to score a table on week one: how do I make the most of my night?
SF: Use the wait staff, they are amazing. Don’t be afraid to dine exactly how you like. We’re all about catering to our customers. Line up some wines you would never have tried and have fun. The new Balthazar is all about having a good time eating and drinking.
BS: Wine seems to be an even bigger part of the new Balthazar: has Dan and Emma’s love of grape juice influenced your cooking?
SF: It influences me because they are just as passionate about wine as I am about food. I’ve been to all the tastings leading up to Balthazar reopening and learnt quite a bit myself. When it comes to wine, both Dan and Em are encyclopedias of information, and their approach to teaching staff is really refreshing. Every drop is about what it would match with. They’re all about sharing knowledge and teamwork. It’s been an amazing environment from the beginning.
BS: What dishes should we be ordering when we come in?
SF: I’m loving the local Beaufort River lamb tartare made with backstrap and our own sour cream, Bread in Common rye and a rich duck-egg yolk. It works as a share dish or something to have on your own.
I’m also proud of the current chicken dish. We’re making our own ricotta out of Sunnydale milk and I’m using the whey to brine the chicken. It’s served with a black truffle puree, persimmon, cavalo nero and fresh shaved truffles. It’ll probably be a short-lived dish as persimmon season will be over in three or so weeks.
For vegans, we have a killer fennel dish with some verjuice, braised fennel, fennel cooked with Pernod, black sesame puree, macadamia ricotta, pickled shallots, seeds and pollen. When we did the staff tasting, all the boys were so surprised that they loved a dish that was vegan.
For those who love cheese, we are serving a selection of six different cheeses, each matched with their own garnishes, including an awesome native blood-lime marmalade made with fruit off my mum’s tree.
Balthazar reopens from Wednesday June 15.
6 The Esplanade, Perth (08) 9421 1206
Mon to Fri 12pm–3pm, 6pm–11pm Sat 6pm–11pm