Sean Connolly is one of Australia and New Zealand’s most well-respected chefs, with a growing list of accomplishments and awards to his name. A true visionary with a wealth of experience and uncompromising drive, his latest endeavour is the opening of his first restaurant in Adelaide, South Australia – the aptly named Sean’s Kitchen.
While Adelaide might be a million miles from his birthplace in West Yorkshire, the principals he learned in his Grandma’s Esther’s kitchen still guide and influence his food today: generosity, imagination and a healthy respect for excellent produce.
His formal training began at the age of 13, taking on a Chef’s Apprenticeship at the Pennine Hilton, Ainley Top, Leeds and completing his apprenticeship at various restaurants throughout the UK when he was 16.
A stint aboard the luxury cruise liner, QE2, cemented his passion for food and in 1988 he arrived in Australia on a working holiday visa. Honing his skills in various Sous Chef roles at high-end establishments - such as The Boulevard and the definitive Park Lane (now Sheraton on The Park) - he was mentored by renowned chefs Dietmar Sawyer and Liam Tomlin.
An appointment in 1995 as Executive Chef of Astral restaurant at Star City Casino saw Sean and his team win a swag of awards, earning consecutive Chef Hat's from 2007 to 2011, as well as 2008 Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide’s ‘Chef of the Year’.
In 2009 he hosted the critically acclaimed 13 part series on SBS called My Family Feast, a celebration of Australia’s love of food and family life. The series picked up best TV show at the 2010 Australian Food Media Awards, plus best TV series for food and wine culture at the world TV Food & Wine Festival. He also released the My Family Feast cookbook to coincide with the launch of the series and won best celebrity chef cookbook in the world at the 2011 Paris Book Fair, beating international stars like Nigella Lawson.
Sean left Star City Casino in 2010 to pursue international opportunities and his growing TV career. This led him to New Zealand where in 2011 he, together with SKYCITY Auckland, opened the multi-million dollar restaurant The Grill by Sean Connolly. This venture was made into a six-part documentary called Under The Grill, which documented Sean’s journey armed with a four million dollar budget and a one hundred day deadline to create a world-class restaurant from scratch. His documentary was well received with 39% of the country watching the documentary and discussions underway for the sequel to be filmed. The restaurant received rave reviews and in 2012 won Best Restaurant at the prestigious New Zealand Cuisine Awards.
In 2012 he opened the hugely successful New York style restaurant and oyster bar, The Morrison, in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. Now, with a home-cooking product range to his name, a dedicated website and restaurant consulting arm of his brand, his attention has turned to Adelaide and Sean’s Kitchen. With a focus on showcasing the outstanding local produce, this multi-million dollar restaurant in Adelaide Casino is the culmination of the extensive expertise that Sean has earned to date, and is a highly personal project.
The high-end New York brasserie located in the historic building of Adelaide Casino will focus on simple and honest food, paired with an extensive wine and cocktail menu in a luxury setting. With two private dining rooms, a chef’s table and a museum of ham, the restaurant will reflect the dynamic sophistication of a food-oriented city.
Awards & Accolades
- Chef of the Year, 2008 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Awards
- Chef’s Hat, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 & 2011 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Awards (Astral)
- Chef of the Year, 2008 GQ Man of the Year Awards
- One star, Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2011 (Astral)
- Chef of the Year, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 Australian Hotels Association NSW Awards for Excellence
- Best Restaurant of the Year, 2007 AHA NSW Awards (Astral)
- Best Fine Dining Restaurant in a Hotel, Restaurant & Catering Awards for Excellence NSW & ACT 2007 (Astral)
- Best TV Show 2010, Australian Food Media Awards
- Best Food & Wine TV Series 2010, World TV Food & Wine Festival
- Best Celebrity Chef Cookbook 2011, Paris Book Fair
- Best Restaurant 2012, New Zealand Cuisine Awards (The Grill).