Chef, entrepreneur and author David Bitton is living proof that early adversity does not have to limit your potential. In fact, his recently published memoir shows how the grit of struggle can be transformed into a pearl of generosity and fulfilment.
Despite growing up with an alcoholic mother, a father he saw infrequently, and brothers he never felt close to, David did the hard yards to become a distinguished chef.
Decades on, his own family in Australia glows with happiness, and his café-restaurants in Erskineville and Oatley are thriving.
David writes passionately and candidly about his early life in France, including working in top-of-the range restaurants and other eateries. He recounts his dedication in establishing Bitton with his wife Sohani, which has grown to encompass a food consultancy business and a popular range of gourmet products.
He also talks of how shocked he was by the death of his best friend and once business partner Gaby—still mourned by David and staff. Gaby’s death, the deaths of several others he was close to, and turning 50 galvanised him to write: to tell the people he cares about exactly how much he loves them; to capture his family history; and to inspire others to grow from trauma and live a purposeful life.
‘Life will knock you about, people will push you to your limits,’ David writes in the cover blurb, ‘but it’s up to you to get up, keep walking and acknowledge your self-worth.’
David doesn’t skirt the dark times of abuse, breakdown and addiction he experienced, but he does intersperse them with dashes of humour. One priceless moment is when he meets Sohani, the love of his life (and, no, it doesn’t go well at first). Another occurs when he visits her parents at home in southern Sydney and they perform the can-can in their ugg boots and flannel pyjamas.
Chopped and Served is an engaging and easy-to-read memoir—so here’s what I suggest: Have breakfast at Bitton to meet the man behind the memoir and to taste the food he offers (both are delightful). Sip on one of Sydney’s best coffees and grab a copy of his book.
As David signs it, ask him to tell you about Sohani and his two children. Let the conversation unfold from there and you’ll soon start to feel you’re sort of special. David’s delicious French accent and warm smile will charm and disarm you. The impeccable service from his team (and perhaps an extra order of his amazing crepes) should close the circle. Dine there again and, as many of his regulars have discovered, you might make a friend for life.
Chopped and Served: The Autobiography of David Bitton
Bitton Gourmet, $24.95