What can nearly two decades on the cutting edge of Australian restaurant cooking teach you?

This year Ben Shewry celebrates 19 years at Attica, the restaurant that made his name as chef both here and around the world. We asked him to give us 19 of the key things he has learned as a chef, restaurateur and employer over those years. Here, in no particular order, they are:

  1. Say “hello!” to everyone you work with, every day.
  2. Don’t fuck the planet with reckless cooking.
  3. Melbourne really is one of the great food cities of the world. I’ve had the privilege of travelling all over the world, and every time I return home I’m reminded what a bloody amazing place this is.
  4. Bring as many passions as possible into your work that don’t relate to your work.
  5. Be more fearless and more fearless and more fearless.
  6. Learn how to use a hammer, a paint brush, a jack hammer, et cetera.
  7. Fight every day for your creative freedom.
  8. Environmentalists should be lovers of food. Lovers of food should be environmentalists.
  9. All great cooking is a form of intellect, on the level of other, more socially recognised forms of intelligence.
  10. Own your own culpability in every situation.
  11. Try to make time for play every single day. What is the flavour of red? Anything I want it to be, of course.
  12. Have a comprehensive business plan and hire experts like lawyers and accountants to help you – you need them and their expertise to survive and excel.
  13. Don’t forget where you came from, nor the people who helped you along the way.
  14. Dining rooms and kitchens are just buildings. Restaurants are people: staff, customers and community.
  15. Try to be one per cent better every day.
  16. Spend time with people who aren’t from the hospitality community. Get different perspectives, ideas, standards and inspirations.
  17. Learn about the place where you cook. The history of cooking in Australia goes back way beyond the more obvious signs of the last few hundred years.
  18. Real hospitality is not “broken”, stop listening to all the negative naysayers who only complain and don’t provide solutions. Let’s get to work!
  19. Never give up.

Attica is running a special greatest hits menu on Wednesdays through to the end of winter. Ben Shewry’s new book, Uses for Obsession, is now available for pre-order; attica.com.au, @benshewry