Meyjitte Boughenout

Written on the 2 December 2009

Meyjitte Boughenout
Absynthe
HOSPITALITY

Age: 40
Business Est: 2005
Number of staff: 26
Growth: 31%
Turnover: $4.6m

Two-star Michelin chef Meyjitte Boughenout opened his first business venture Absynthe in 2005.

He has since expanded and now owns five restaurants on the Gold Coast, including the Sanctuary Cove Wine Bar and Cellar and the Godmother’s Magical Pizzas at Paradise Point.

The French native has also opened the Absynthe Bakery at Circle on Cavill and Absynthe Patisserie at Paradise Point.

Renowned for his exceptional haute cuisine and for experimenting with flavours and textures, Boughenout has excellent cooking credentials. He has worked at three-Michelin star restaurants L’Auberge du Pere Bise, Restaurant George Blanc and Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire in Paris.

The Australian Gourmet Traveller 2010 recently awarded Absynthe the best regional restaurant in Queensland and ranked it the 37th best restaurant in the country.

Boughenout, who first introduced haute cuisine to the Gold Coast four years ago, has now set his culinary sights on transforming the humble pizza into a contemporary, gourmet experience with his new venture, Godmothers Magical Pizzas.

He says the pizzas are more robust, intense and flavoursome and, wait for it, there’s no crust.

“Unlike the usual pizzas where the ingredients are only the topping, our pizzas are formed entirely out of the ingredients. It’s a three-dimensional pizza,’’ says Boughenout.

“In fact the customer’s plate is the pizza base, with all the ingredients combined to form the pizza. We will offer the usual classic pizzas but also add gourmet ones such as potato and truffle pizzas with edible gold leaf.”

He has also produced dishes such as the golden egg, a concoction of foamed egg white presented in its shell with soy jelly and an edible gold leaf and is proud to introduce another first: Parmesan foam.

Picture this. Parmesan cheese dispensed through an aerosol can to delicately enhance his gourmet pizzas.

“I expect customers will be surprised and a little intrigued when their waitress sprays the cheese unto their pizza,’’ says Boughenout.
Boughenout has also opened a wine bar at Sanctuary Cove which offers an extensive wine list.

Many Australian restaurateurs, he says, underestimate the palates of locals and tend to overlook the coast. But he affirms that the opposite is true and believes there is great demand for fine food and enormous potential to develop the Gold Coast into a major culinary destination.

“I took the risk on my own four years ago (when I opened Absynthe) when no one believed fine food would be appreciated here,” he says.

“Many people questioned whether it was wise to open a fine food restaurant in the `Texas of Australia’. I am happy that we are No.1 in Queensland and it does make me feel good.”

Having moved here from Tasmania, Boughenout says he is now a local and here to stay.

“I have found the perfect balance here with my work and lifestyle. I appreciate the proximity to the water, the perfect weather and great people,’’ he says.

Not one to rest on his laurels, the award-winning chef says he plans to expand further while working towards making Absynthe ‘the best restaurant in Australia’. He also has plans to open a French brasserie in Noumea, New Caledonia by the end of 2010.

His ultimate goal is for Michelin inspectors to venture Down Under to review Australian restaurants.

“And when they come, I will be ready,’’ he says.

- Emily Mathews


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