A Table With Plates Of Food And Glasses Of Wine

A Local Love Affair


Conversation 5 minute read

Kim Brennan is Executive Chef at COMO The Treasury in Perth, Western Australia. In this COMO Conversation, we speak about his passion for seasonality, his inspirations, and what it takes to manage a collection of Perth’s finest restaurants.

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Kim Brennan

Chef Kim Brennan is Executive Chef of COMO The Treasury as well as the wider group of restaurants within Perth’s State Buildings. His career has taken him worldwide from London to Sydney and Fiji, working in collaboration with celebrity chefs including Justin North and Peter Kuruvita. In 2015, Chef Kim returned to his West Australian roots, joining COMO The Treasury, where he masterminds the synergy between the hotel’s restaurants: Wildflower, Post, and the Cape Arid Rooms. 

A Room With Tables And Chairs

Your career has boomeranged you between London, Sydney, Fiji, and now Perth. What is it about Perth that calls to your creative energies?

I was born in Bunbury, not far from Perth. Coming home after a long time working abroad has given me a chance to reconnect with my roots. At COMO The Treasury, we have three restaurants. They’re all very different in concept, but united by a strong commitment to farmer- and forager-driven menus. I’m obsessed with getting hold of the very best of Western Australia’s produce. Building relationships with suppliers across the whole state, finding the region’s best ingredients  — it’s an immensely satisfying experience.

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What does the concept of farm-to-table boil down to for you?

It means paying respect to the farmers you use and the ingredients they produce. It means minimising food waste and listening to the land — using what’s in season, when each ingredient is at its best. At COMO The Treasury we have many great relationships with local farmers, distributors, butchers, fishermen and so on. I’m proud of these connections, whether we’re sourcing beef from David Torre, a second-generation butcher with his own cattle farm, or stocking up on Geraldton wax flowers, originating north of Perth. At the end of the day, fresh, local ingredients make food taste good. By comparison, if you try fruit from overseas, by the time it’s made it to the market through Australia’s quarantine regulations, the flavour’s gone. When I see foreign produce — asparagus from Mexico, for example, on supermarket shelves, I’m horrified. It doesn’t appear anywhere close to our local asparagus season, which is in spring. If an ingredient is not in season and not local, it won’t be on any of our menus.

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Wildflower is one of Perth’s top fine dining restaurants, awarded Three Chef Hats, which is Australia’s closest equivalent to three Michelin Stars. What makes it so special?

Wildflower’s menu is inspired by the Indigenous Noongar calendar, which has six seasons instead of four. There’s an extra nuance to cooking with six seasons; each is so short that you’re truly guided by wildflowers, herbs and native elements at their peak. For instance, when quandongs — a sweet, tangy red fruit —  are in season, we might only feature them on our menu for a couple of weeks before we cycle on to a different ingredient. Working with a constantly changing menu is dynamic; it allows me to experiment with flavour combinations. Of course I still end up with favourite dishes. One of those is a first course of sheeps’ curd, native thyme, papaya and summer melons. We take several different types of local melon, compressing them with their juice, and add native thyme for a floral element. We then take local sheeps’ curd and set it in a mould, garnishing it with local herbs, flowers and a gazpacho lightly spiked with native ginger and chilli. It’s light, aromatic and to me, it’s summer on a plate.

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Post is a traditional Italian osteria. What’s the secret to making authentic Italian cuisine 8,000 miles away in Western Australia?

Post is probably my favourite of COMO The Treasury’s restaurants. I spend most of my time there. I love the elegance of Italian cuisine. It’s all about cooking using beautiful ingredients, treated very simply. It might seem strange — that an Italian restaurant works so well in Western Australia — but it all comes back to seasonality and eating locally. Italian cuisine is all about letting the ingredients shine on the plate, and it’s a pleasure to work with the diversity of ingredients here.

I love the rigatoni; it’s real comfort food, cooked with garlic, chilli, sugo and guanciale. The tuna bruschetta is fabulous too. We confit local tuna, whip it together with top quality olive oil and season it with lemon. Spread across charred sourdough and topped with pickled shallot, capers, lemon zest and of course, more olive oil, it’s unbelievably tasty. For dessert I’d recommend our Tiramisu. We use a very traditional recipe, but then top it with a marsala zabaione custard. It takes it to another level.

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A Table With Plates Of Food And Glasses Of Wine
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The Cape Arid Rooms also celebrate local Western Australian produce. What stands out to you about the afternoon tea menu?

To start with, the Cape Arid Rooms are in themselves an expression of Western Australia’s abundant nature; the rooms are lined with watercolour and ink paintings of Cape Arid National Park, by Alex and Philippa Nikulinsky. So the moment you enter, you’re already transported to the wild nature that this region has to offer. Then every item on the menu has a distance shown next to it, marking the kilometres the ingredients have travelled to reach each plate. I love that nod to our local suppliers. Each pastry or sandwich might seem simple to start with, but every ingredient that goes into it has been carefully sourced to make sure it’s the very best example we can find. Take the egg sandwich that’s currently on our menu; it’s an Aussie classic, which we don’t mess with. Good, organic eggs, mixed with light mayonnaise and chives, served on fresh, lightly buttered sandwich loaf. We garnish it with cornichons, little cocktail onions, and some celery cress. It’s classic food, anchored to wholesome roots.

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What are you most proud of having achieved at COMO The Treasury?

Having such busy restaurants is certainly a sign we’re doing something right. And the accolades don’t hurt either — Wildflower has Three Chef Hats and all our restaurants are in the WA Good Food Guide top 100 restaurants in Western Australia. But most of all, I’m proud of the relationships we’ve built between staff, guests and suppliers over the years. Many of them have become like family to me over the years.

Please get in touch with our COMO The Treasury concierge, they can arrange a reservation for you at any of our restaurants.