Interview with Bisou Bisou Chef Jeff Campbell

Working worldwide, being a stay-at-home dad while running a high-end catering business and being mentored by Ben O’Donahue have been just some of the highlights of French cuisine chef Jeff Campbell’s 30-year career so far.

The multi-Chef Hat winner has honed and taken his culinary creations overseas, including 3 years in Japan and time spent in London, Fiji, France and various spots across Australia.

His newest venture is now cooking up French creations at Bisou Bisou, part of the Ghanem Group, his newest role as head chef based in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. The French phrase means ‘kiss kiss’ and is open with an 80-capacity, using traditional sous-vide style cooking for its classic French menu.

Its dishes include roasted pork loin with braised cabbage and port jus, barramundi with cauliflower and blue cheese velouté. Not to mention the pear terrine with fig leaf ice cream.

Career Break

“My dad was in the air force and we travelled a lot when I was a kid, so it was natural for me to want to travel with a young family,” he said. “They have adapted really well and it has enhanced their learning about life.”

After travelling and working overseas with his family, in 2010, Jeff and his wife decided to take be at home with his young family, while his wife, who he met while in France, worked full-time in hospitality management.

“I could be a stay-at-home dad for the best part of 6 years and see my young children grow up,” he remembers fondly. But he didn’t stop working completely. Jeff set up Jet Food, a business providing catering for high-end functions.

“The business meant I could be at home with my family, it worked well.” 

Jet Food landed Jeff some memorable gigs, including being featured on Ready, Steady, Cook Australia with Ainsley Harriott. 

“I know not many chefs get to be at home with their families and, while my children were so young, I wanted to take the opportunity,” he said.

In 2016, Jeff returned to full-time cheffing, working for Gold Coast private chef, Adam Scott and consulting in Cairns, before joining Bisou Bisou when it first opened.

Early Career

Jeff worked a 4-year apprenticeship starting out as a sous chef, with Stuart Kennedy as his first mentor. Jeff’s experience with ingredients and dishes span far and wide, including Asian and European cuisines, but his passion lies mostly with French cuisine.

Jeff’s first major project was his involvement in opening Monte’s in Sloane Street, a joint project with other chefs, including Jamie Oliver in the early stage of his career.

“That was back in the days when being a chef was cool and hip,” Jeff remembers.

Ben O’Donahuewas was one of his most inspirational chefs when Jeff was training and learning his trade with his restaurant, Billy Kart, in Brisbane. He also spent 6 months at the Flying Fish in Sydney alongside Peter Kuruvita.

From the wide experiences Jeff has had, he now feels that he can settle in Brisbane with Bisou Bisou.feat

“The industry is having its fair share of challenges overall, with the food shortages, like with potatoes and businesses struggling to find staff, but it’s all about adapting to them.