Chopped and Served: The Life of Sydney Chef David Bitton
An inspirational story of healing, transformation and believing anything is possible.
As a biographer writer, I am always honoured to have people share their life story with me. Everyone has a story to tell, and so to help someone record their life and activities for future generations of their family, is such a privilege.
In 2015, when I was given the opportunity to present my biography service to the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Partnership Board, I had no idea what would result from that meeting. Although the service was not quite what the Board was seeking to initiate into the hospital program, I was fortunate to briefly meet an interesting Frenchman that day; chef David Bitton.
One year on from that presentation, I received a phone call from David. He told me he couldn’t stop thinking about the idea I’d spoken of at the Lifehouse, and asked if I’d be willing to help him write his autobiography. In a few years, he’d be turning 50 and wanted to be able to capture his life as it was at age 47. This extraordinary man, who I knew nothing about, was keen to connect the dots of his life, and he wanted me to help him. After emailing him an outline of my biography service, we met the very next week.
In August 2016, the transformation of David’s life began.
To make it as easy as possible and comfortable for him, I travelled to David and we conducted our meetings in his dining room at Café Bitton, in Sydney’s Alexandria. For almost six months, for three hours a week, we’d be engrossed in the world of David Bitton. Every week I was greeted by his welcoming staff, and every week I had my double espresso waiting for me as I arrived to begin recording another chapter of David’s life. He would talk, and I would listen.
When he’d recall moments that were hard for him to speak of, or certain periods which defined his life, we’d both get emotional or break out into laughter together. David was willing to be open about all aspects of his life and I was captivated by his story.
A mutual respect and trust between us had formed.
After each session I’d go home and transcribe the recording, which would then trigger more questions for me to ask David in our next meeting. When I’d edit, I had David’s voice in my head guiding me. Since we’d spent so much time together, I knew how to ghost write the gaps in his story to help make it flow. Then, after all our meetings had been conducted, I gave David the first draft to read. This triggered more memories about David’s life experience for us to talk and expand on, and so our weekly sessions resumed.
Through this whole process I got to meet David’s amazing wife, Sohani, and two beautiful children Monet and Mayen. Sohani joined us for a few sessions when we needed her input on some areas of her husband’s life, and when I wanted to capture the essence of the relationship between them. I saw another side to David through this process and it helped me immensely when it came to channel his personality during ghost writing.
David had entrusted me with his life, which in turn made me feel like I was more than just his co-writer. He brought out the best in me, and with his inspiring story, I wanted to invest as much time as possible to help him realise his dream.
In the final stages of the project, when I was collecting photographs for the book, David decided he wanted to share his autobiography with the world. Writing his story helped him heal parts of his life he hadn’t faced or was previously ready to let go of. The whole process made him realise he’d overcome so much, and had accomplished so many wonderful things in his life that he was proud of.
For me, helping someone connect the dots, to create a blueprint of an everlasting legacy of their life in the form of an autobiography, is always a special honour. Writing has become an extension of my life. I was always told, to be successful in what you do, do what you love. I was able to work very closely with David without feeling overwhelmed, because I was doing what I was born to do.
If you want to put together a memoir as a gift for a loved one, or are simply interested in capturing the story of your life as it is today, contact me and we can begin the process by having a chat at your convenience.
Thanks to David Bitton, I am now a published author. His raw and unedited autobiography, Chopped and Served, is available for purchase at www.bittongourment.com.au
To listen to David’s testimonial about his experience click here
Chopped and Served has been reviewed by Sally Hammond for Food & Travel. Click here to read more.