WHEN Brothers renovated its club six years ago, it decided it needed a new direction. And that direction would be signposted by top-class food. And to make top-class food, you need a top-class chef. The man Brothers chose to lead their catering unit is Neil Smith and he’s got quite the background.
He apprenticed at seafood mecca Pier Nine, which won a Three Hats award, one of only two restaurants in Queensland to score the accolade. And when he moved on, he didn’t take an easy gig, working for Michelin-star chef Antony Scholtmeyer.
So what does that mean for Brothers? Neil explains, “We exceed expectations. Beginning from the best-quality produce – for instance, our beef is sourced directly from the grazier, allowing us to control quality from paddock to plate – and going through cooking processes that you just don’t get from a club. It’s restaurant quality at a club price.”
It’s not just the beef. The club sources farmed barramundi from the NT because it’s a sustainable practice and the same is true of its Tasmanian salmon. And the food is all made fresh. Neil uses traditional methods to produce his food and yes, that means a bit more effort. He says, “The red wine jus takes three days to make but our customers tell us it’s worth it.”
This might not sound like what you’d expect from a club but Neil and his crew are all about exceeding expectations. “We took a totally different approach to food in a club. We didn’t do things the traditional way. People might come in expecting they’ll just get a parmi but if that’s what they expect, they’re going to be surprised.”
Brothers is a big operation so Neil can provide quality at a reasonable price, relying on the economy of scale to keep costs down. And suppliers will testify that this man knows how to bargain! And to make food on this scale, you need a great team. Neil is quick to credit his staff, all chosen by him. Some of them are old friends. Chrissie Voll (pictured with Neil and long-time buddy Kieran Smith (no relation) right) has been at Brothers for 27 years.
“It would be impossible to achieve this without this team,” Neil says.