Robert Cockerill is Head Chef of Bennelong restaurant in the Sydney Opera House.
Born in Sydney in 1983, he lived in France and the UK for part of his childhood, returning to Australia to complete his schooling. In Australia, Rob’s parents bought a small farm in Mudgee, turning it into a working olive grove producing extra virgin olive oil – an experience that gave teenage Rob an insight into seasonality.
After school, Rob moved to Newcastle to begin his chef’s apprenticeship at a local cafe. He then went on to study viticulture at Sydney University and, after a stint in early 2000 working in hatted Sydney restaurants, moved to Far North Queensland. Here he worked closely with local fishermen, learning the art of spear-fishing and finding a connection to the water and the environment.
Next came several years in London, working across the restaurants owned by the Soho House Group. During this time, Rob heard what Chef Peter Gilmore was doing in Australia at Quay and, when he returned to Sydney in 2008 he approached Peter for a job.
During his 7 years at Quay, Rob immersed himself in Peter’s innovative cuisine and worked closely with him in building invaluable relationships with the Australian farmers, fishermen and growers whose produce is the centrepiece of Quay’s cuisine.
In July 2015, Rob was appointed Head Chef of the newly reopened Bennelong at the Sydney Opera House, still working alongside Executive Chef Peter Gilmore.
Bennelong has won Best New Restaurant at all major Australian restaurant awards, including: The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide, Time Out Sydney, Gault Millau Australia, and Australian Restaurant and Catering Awards.
Visit Bennelong for more information.