Veteran passes on chef's hat

Jacques Reymond with sous chefs Thomas Woods and Hayden McFarland.
Jacques Reymond with sous chefs Thomas Woods and Hayden McFarland. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Recognised for more than 20 years as one of Melbourne's best chefs, veteran French restaurateur Jacques Reymond chose Monday night's The Age Good Food Guide awards to announce his retirement.

Call it confidence, but with his eponymous Prahran restaurant having nabbed the guide's highest accolade for 17 of the past 24 years Reymond wasn't too concerned about exiting the local fine-dining scene with egg on his face.

''It would have been very upsetting,'' said Reymond at the thought of dropping a Good Food Guide hat in his final year. He chose to announce his retirement at Monday night's ceremony at the NGV so he could thank friends and colleagues while they were gathered. ''It's an emotional time for me and my wife,'' he conceded. ''It is 30 years of our life.''

Jacques Reymond was one of four Melbourne restaurants awarded three hats on the night and news that the 60-year-old owner was passing the baton to his two sous chefs almost stole the thunder from the night's real winner, Attica and its chef, Ben Shewry, singled out from the three-hat pack as Victoria's best restaurant and chef respectively.

New Zealand-born Shewry propelled Attica to international attention this year when the Ripponlea restaurant was ''highest new entrant'' at the World's 50 Best Restaurants awards in London.

Shannon Bennett's Vue de Monde also received three hats, while Chinatown stalwart Flower Drum was more of a surprise, picking up three hats for the first time in eight years.

The Royal Mail Hotel, in Dunkeld, was not scored in the 2014 guide due to the recent departure of head chef Dan Hunter. The Healesville Hotel was named Victoria's best regional restaurant, and Collingwood's Saint Crispin the state's best new restaurant.

Chefs Hayden McFarland and Thomas Woods will take over Jacques Reymond's mansion-style restaurant early next year and rename it Woodland House - an amalgamation of their names.

Reymond said he was confident the transition would be seamless, he having worked with Woods and McFarland in the kitchen for several years.


''They will continue the tradition and give emotion to the customers,'' he said. ''They are young. They will bring a lot of energy and youth because it will be their own.''

In Epicure today: The full list of winners from The Age 2014 Good Food Guide awards.

See for video coverage of Monday night's awards.

The Age Good Food Guide 2014 will be available for $10 with The Saturday Age this weekend from participating newsagents, Coles, Woolworths and 7-Eleven stores. It is also on sale in bookshops and online at for $24.99 from today.