Meet Raphael Szurek – Chef, creative, explorer.
Our extraordinary French Chef de Cuisine was trained under renowned Lyonnais chef Paul Bocuse himself; having completed a Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Degree and Bachelor of Hospitality and Restaurants Management at the Paul Bocuse Institute and Lyon 3 University in France.
He was also brought up in a multi-generational foodie family, with his grandfather being a butcher and his father too being excellent in the kitchen. Raphael donned his chef’s apron at the 3 Michelin Stars, Four Seasons Hotel George V before gaining further experience at 3 Michelin Stars, Le Grand Vefour and Fauchon.
He further mastered his craft across innumerable restaurants in Europe and Asia, including China and Vietnam, where he was the Chef at the award-winning French Grill restaurant at the JW Marriott Hanoi.
This allowed Raphael to pick up and fuse global techniques and multicultural flavours into his signature style. He brings this style to life through fresh, sustainable, and quality local produce as well as specialty (and often rare) ingredients.
Raphael also dons the hat of an educator, with a strong focus on training and developing his team members and having taught public masterclasses on his style of the culinary art.
In addition to the above, he is a stellar food stylist and photographer, as well as being trained in both classical and jazz music. Raphael brings this creativity, structure, and improvisational skill to his recipes, techniques, and presentation alike; having had his food described as "works of art.”
How would you define your style?
My cooking style is deeply rooted in my French culture, but it’s also largely influenced by my 10 years spent in South East Asia, using local and seasonal products.
We let the food speak for itself, sourcing sustainable seafood and working with responsible food suppliers is a big part of my job. On the plate, there are no more than 3 or 4 ingredients combined, cooking with methods that respect the produce. The key is not to overdo it.
What is your feature flavour these days?
At Silvester’s the featured flavour is "authenticity”. After spending 10 years in Asia where it was challenging to source quality products, I have been blown away by the quality of the products available in Australia. Food needs to taste like its original flavour. We work on different textures to feature one ingredient in one dish, it is very important.
Obsessive compulsive about?
Organisation and cleanliness – they are key in an open kitchen.
About food, I am in a constant search of improving our dishes, a way to work and cook better in order to make our customers happy and have them come back again and again.
Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences:
I have been inspired by one of the greatest Chefs I have ever worked with who sadly passed away a few years ago, Chef Frank Petania, MOF, who taught me at school the passion for hard work and using good products. I love the work of Daniel Humm in New York.
I am influenced by everything, from other Chefs, from what I eat, what music I listen to, what challenges I must overcome, what I see on social media, and trying to keep up with the latest food trends!
What do you love about this business?
I love making people happy! I love food and enjoy sharing my passion with my staff, colleagues and customers. I love the diversity of it! Not one day is the same as the last one. Since the start of my career it has been a learning journey, in France, in Asia and in Australia. Every place taught me something.
An ingredient you can’t live without?
I love citrus, especially lime for its diversity. The balance of a dish often stands with the right amount of sour. But mostly it is "generosity”; in the way you deal with your staff, your colleagues, and the customers. Food is making people happy, happy Chefs cook good food!
Most ‘eyebrow raising’ menu item?
"Squid carbonara”; instead of traditional pasta, the dish is prepared with thinly sliced South Australian calamari, house cured Guanciale from Berkshire pork in Byron Bay and finished with Parmesan cheese, nori seaweed and bonito flakes. It surprises customers!
Moreton Bay bug, Shio koji, soy toast
Rockliff Spanner Crab, avocado, grapefruit
Uji Matcha Lava Tart, yogurt ice cream, rhubarb.
An intriguing fusion of global techniques and flavours await diners at Silvester's Restaurant on Bulletin Place in Circular Quay. Step into moody surrounds of dark wood, granite table tops and richly coloured walls, where chilling back with a drink goes hand in hand with exquisite cuisine crafted by Michelin-star experienced French Chef, Raphael Szurek. Housed in a building that was once one of Sydney's finest butchers, Silvester's honours this commitment to fresh food by sourcing quality ingredients brought to the table in dishes capturing their signature style. Expect stunning starting plates such as yellow fin tuna poke, green papaya and nuoc cham; while for the main affair delve into Berkshire tomahawk pork chop, with heirloom carrots, kipfler potatoes, umeboshi and seaweed butter.