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Frank van Haandel to open Bennelong by Stokehouse

Melbourne restaurateur Frank van Haandel has been chosen by the Sydney Opera House Trust as the preferred tenderer for the Bennelong restaurant.

The Van Haandel Group management team

After a substantial refit starting in the New Year, Bennelong by Stokehouse will open its doors in May 2014. The restaurant will capitalise on Bennelong’s two-tiered structure to deliver both a sophisticated dining area and more casual upper level. It will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and for breakfast on weekends.

Van Haandel has more than 30 years’ experience centred in Melbourne and, more recently, at Stokehouse Q in Brisbane. He said, “We are thrilled to have been selected for this iconic Sydney restaurant, which will be the focus of our attention over the coming years. It is the perfect place for our particular style of dining, which is classic and exuberant, respectful and contemporary.”

Bennelong by Stokehouse also marks the return to Sydney of renowned chef and Stokehouse’s creative director and executive chef Anthony Musarra to oversee the new restaurant.

Musarra said, “I am delighted to be coming home to take on the most exciting challenge of my life: a restaurant worthy of Australia’s greatest building”. Working closely with Van Haandel, Musarra renovated Stokehouse Restaurant St Kilda and then went on to launch Stokehouse Q, Stokehouse Café and most recently, Fatto Bar & Cantina.

Stokehouse Q’s 30-year-old rising star Richard Ousby, will be the head chef of Bennelong by Stokehouse. Ousby joined Stokehouse Q in 2012, became head chef earlier this year and immediately earned Stokehouse Q its second chef’s hat. He won the prestigious 2012 Acqua Panna & S. Pellegrino International Young Chef of the Year award and the 2011 Electrolux Australian Young Chef of the Year.  He was sous-chef to Peter Gilmore at Sydney’s Quay Restaurant and worked under Michel Roux at the famous Waterside Inn in Britain.