Back to the 1980s at Bennelong

Bennelong restaurant, 1985

Bennelong restaurant, 1985

Crimson carpets cover the floor and walls. Mahogany leather couches, ferns and street-style lamps line the restaurant. Where are you? A Paris bistro? Hogwarts? No. This is Bennelong circa 1985.

This photo of Bennelong 30 years ago is part of a curated online collection put together by the Sydney Opera House in collaboration with the Google Cultural Institute. The collection documents the Opera House's life since its opening in October 1973 and features over a thousand vintage and modern artefacts, such as architectural drawings, interviews, photography and a 360-degree Opera House experience (an immersive short film taking you through the building from dawn to dusk).

One of the 50 exhibits that make up the collection is Food as Culture, which follows the Opera House's edible history. As well as vintage photography of Bennelong restaurant, the exhibit includes video footage of presentations by chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi and Nigella Lawson, plus original menus.

A catering menu from a 1976 brochure entitled "Convention Centre of the Century" proffers options ranging from $1.50 - $4.75 per person, with dishes such as oyster and chicken vol au vents, "party titbits" (cubed cheese and olives) and prunes and bacon. Or, if you wanted to splash out at $7.50 a head there was a buffet option including Tasmanian scallops au whisky.

The collection was curated by creative director and writer Sam Doust. "The Opera House has become an extraordinary focal point of Australia's cultural history," Doust explains. "No other institution produces so much creative power."

Doust sourced the artefacts from multiple locations, including the Opera House's own Wolanski Collections, the State Library and private collections, as well as photographs and animations that Doust himself created.

Doust explains how Bennelong restaurant is intertwined with the building's architectural history, as it's the only place where you can see the underside of the famous shells. Food has also gained a particular significance to the location, evolving into part of the culture, "the character of Bennelong Point is as much about food as it is about performance." 

See the whole  Food as Culture collection here.

 

 

 


Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
First look: Bondi Beach Public Bar unveils menu – and a squish burger
11.12.2017
Andrew McConnell is taking over NGV this summer
07.12.2017
Eight new restaurants and an Art Series hotel opening on the Brisbane River in 2018
06.12.2017
Clayton Wells to open A1 Canteen
27.11.2017
Deliveroo opens Australia’s first delivery-only kitchen
24.11.2017
Bad Hombres pops up in Brisbane
23.11.2017
The Gourmet Traveller podcast

Each fortnight we round up the most interesting characters from the food world for your listening pleasure. We chat to chefs, cooks, authors, bar tenders and baristas - anyone who has something new and interesting to say about the way we like to eat and drink.

Listen
Recipe collections

Looking for fresh dinner ideas? Not sure how to make the most out of seasonal produce? Or do you need to plan the perfect party menu? Our recipe collections have you covered.

See more

You might also like...

Momofuku Seiobo

How to sum up Momofuku Seiobo's 12-course meal? Excellent e...

Bang, Sydney restaurant review

Panache could be a watchword for Bang, Surry Hills’ first fo...

Sydney's new cult burger, layer by layer

Sokyo's Chase Kojima's new project is something completely n...

Silvereye to close this August

Chef Sam Miller is heading back to the UK.