Shannon Bennett & Miele
It was a typical cold Melbourne winters day – June 16th to be precise.
The weather in 2005 never bothered me. I was so full of excitement and pumped with adrenalin, as my new incarnation of Vue de monde had just opened. We were riding by the seat of our pants with new dishes and ideas flowing like a tropical river in the wet season.
We had been hired the week before by Australia’s Managing Director at the time for Miele, Michael Jeanes, to cater for the launch of the new Miele Experience Centre.
It was a massive gig for us at the time. Three hundred people with five stations of different dishes linked to each appliance. I had to get my head around this amazing design and technology, ensuring the dishes reflected the Vue de monde philosophy of ingredients that were local, seasonal and at its best – then curating that ingredient into something you might dare to produce at home!
That lunchtime, a booking of four takes up the kitchen chefs table. That booking would change my life forever.
We were so under the pump preparing and also working our way through a full lunchtime service. It was the day I met Dr Reinhard Zinkann, one half of the world renowned Miele brand.
Intelligent, ever present and eccentric. Unbeknown to me that day, I was about to embark on a journey of aspiration and learning. This is a man who had my mentor, Alain Ducasse, on speed dial.
His sense of humour after that meal was perfect for the occasion.
“Dr. Zinkann, how was your lunch?” I asked. His reply: “I have eaten worse”, followed by a massive bear hug!
That night I was also introduced to the other half of Miele – Dr Markus Miele.
Humble, deftly intelligent and an amazing listener yet reserved and calm. Ying and yang was at work, and it was captivating to watch.
I suppose I don’t need to press the point – the night was a success, truffle risotto being the stand out.
The next time I was too see Reinhard and Markus was in Gütersloh, Germany, the home of Miele.
It was 8 months later that I was made a Miele brand ambassador.
This honour allows me to travel to Germany regularly to look, learn and discuss design versus efficiency, with innovation always the result.
There are two favourite places of mine to hang when I am in Germany. The museum where I can sit in a Miele car from the early 30’s, or play with a butter churner from 1910 (that several years later evolved into a washing machine!)
The next place is 500 meters down a private road: “the cave” virtual reality studio. This is where I can direct the team to alter the biggest or littlest change in an appliance and then touch and feel the new creative layers.
I leave you now with this little story to give you a taste of how random and exciting my life now is!
A few years later, I was again in Gutersloh for a few days of research that also happened to be on the day as one of Reinhard’s family’s birthdays. I offered to cook at his home for some friends and family. The offer was accepted.
To mark the occasion, Reinhard had replaced one of his ovens with the new H6000.
What did I do? Without checking (and just assuming) I turned on the oven to prepare for a soufflé test. The manual, trays and shelves had not yet been commissioned and were still wrapped in cardboard inside the oven. That day I created my own history in the Miele family by setting the first H6000 oven off the production line on fire in the owner of Miele’s own home!
If you are wondering, the soufflés came out perfect that night!
Written by Shannon Bennett
Click here to watch Shannon Bennett’s History of Miele video.