Eat: Joachim Borenius – Pei Modern – Four Seasons Sydney

With more than 18 years’ of experience in hatted and Michelin restaurants around the world, including Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck and Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York, Chef Joachim Borenius knows a thing or two about a good feed. His motto in life is reflective of his passion for his craft; with good food, good language skills and a sharp knife, there’s no end to the journey of learning. A passion Borenius has brought to Pei Modern, located at Four Seasons Sydney. With an organic spin on relaxed and communal style of dining and a menu that pays homage to fresh produce and intense flavours Pei Modern is a must visit during your next Sydney trip.

Here TWAIN talk food, wine and that Pei Modern experience with Head chef, Joachim Borenius. 

Name: Joachim Borenius

Restaurant: Pei Modern

Time spent as head chef: Started September 2015

Where did you begin your career? 

In a small and ambitious restaurant in the university city of Lund in Sweden, shortly after realising that mechanical engineering was a little too dry for my taste.

What drove your passion for food? 

Something which still drives me, today more so perhaps than when I was younger, is the meeting between people, both in the kitchen and in the dining room…The communion of eating, but also the cultural interactions between people sharing their passions in a very energetic environment.

What is your food philosophy? 

Simple, clean and honest… The more I pour of myself into what I cook the more it becomes clear to me – I love healthy and wholesome food. On a day-to-day basis, I like to keep it healthy. But it’s also very important to allow for a bit of extravagance every now and then. Food is good for the soul, and soul is important for food. I’m a massive animal lover, and have been getting more and more involved and committed to finding meats that come from farms with ethical values. I want to be able to look the animals in the eyes and feel good about what I do for a living.

Signature Dish: 

I don’t have one to be honest… I’ve never been very good at the whole ‘I, Me My’ thing and it’s something I’m working on. To me I feel like a dish is always a work in progress. By the time a dish is getting ‘perfect’ I start getting bored with it and begin the quest for something new.

What is on it’s way out:

Egos… People have finally started getting wise about what they eat and want to know more about what they eat these days. They’re less impressed with inflated chef egos and more interested in sustainability and providence.

Must try for breakfast (and why):

I’ve been a massive fan of Three Blue Ducks in Sydney’s Bronte for many years. It’s healthy and indulgent at the same time. I always leave satisfied and happy. They do lunch as well, but to me it’s all about the breakfast!

Must try for lunch (and why):

Marque Restaurant. Not only because I worked there for five years… But because at $45 for a three-course lunch on a Friday (in a hatted restaurant), you’ll struggle to find anything like it anywhere. Nothing short of brilliant, absolutely genius.

*Marque is run by Executive Chef Mark Best – also Executive Chef of Pei Modern.

Most popular dinner choice:

The past few years have really seen a substantial boom in the industry in Sydney. But I have to say my dinner at new Silvereye in the Old Clare Hotel really blew my mind. Exceptional professionalism in craft and hospitality. A solid 5 out of 5. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really should do yourself the favour. If they don’t get a solid instant three hat review there’s definitely a need to have a look at the reviewers. Nothing short of brilliant!

For a good cocktail:

Baxter Inn! Needs no explanation or introduction in Sydney. A brilliant jewel in the Sydney bar crown. Always on point and with a charming swinging vibe to boot.

Red wine:

Big and bold is the name of the game. I had a fantastic bottle of Argentinean Malbec recently – a lovely high altitude vineyard that lends a great complexity to the wine, alongside a pretty big and bold fruit basket of ripe blood plums and red grapefruit. It would have had a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon through it as well with its herby black pepper notes.

White wine:

Massive sucker for German Rieslings. Rheingau is truly the valley of kings! There’s a certain level of nobility in the mineral rich wines with a slight sweetness and a sharp acidity that just isn’t anywhere else to be found in the world.

Most decedent dessert:

Had an incredible dessert the other week at ACME… It was a warm light rice pudding with white chocolate ice cream and salty milk chocolate crumble underneath it. Absolutely mindblowingly delicious! The warm and sweet with the cold and salty… Perfect!

What makes the Pei Modern dining experience different?

In a relaxed dining room atmosphere, where the open kitchen and its massive wood fire oven is the main feature, we deliver a very honest and produce-focused dining experience with a focus on sustainability, ethical farming and locally sourced produce. We seek to re-wire the modern disconnect from the food we eat and the morals surrounding it by bringing your plates closer to the paddock.

Talk us through the inspiration behind the current menu:

The food at Pei Modern has always had a very clear goal: to amuse, nurture and intrigue without preaching. We want food to nurture both body and mind. Doing so with seasonal, ethically-farmed and locally-sourced produce is just something that comes very natural to us, as that is the way we all prefer to eat ourselves. We seek new and intriguing flavour combinations, and visually appealing presentations which brings out the most of the individual ingredients. Less is more, and when done right it’s our favourite key to success.

Best time to visit:

We are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Personally I prefer the hum and buzz of an evening vibe, which increases through the week and culminates on a Friday and Saturday night. But you’ll get a bit more of an intimate experience earlier in the week for that special occasion.

The best part of communal dining:

To me, eating has always been a great way to meet. Being born into a big and busy family, I always treasured the meals we shared together as it was quality time for us. As I’ve grown older into my profession, I’ve come to prefer communal dining and shared dishes. It’s not just about you and your plate, but more so of a meeting between people.

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