Bar Chat: Michael Chiem
Words by Jane Ryan & Michael Chiem
Profession: Owner of PS40
Michael Chiem is the ever-smiling and impressively creative owner of PS40. His little bar on Skittle Lane has become a standout in the Sydney scene for its dynamic and innovative approach to drinks, pioneering texture, temperature and style. From takeover-Tuesdays to the delivery service in lockdown, Michael is always reimagining ways to keep his business alive and vibrant.
How did you come to own PS40?Lots of hours behind a bar. Ridiculous hours whilst studying and throughout my career to be able to save up the funds to be able to do what we do today!
Who have been your mentors over your bar career? Everyone I have worked with has taught me invaluable lessons. Even your mentors can learn from you. Learning that about the managing a team has probably been one of the hardest and most important things I've done.
How would you describe the drinks style at PS40? Very fluid. We like to dabble in a lot of different styles and concepts. I like to think our drinks are thoughtful to every detail possible.
Who is your favourite bartender in the business right now?Loving working and bartending alongside Tynan Sidhu. He gives everyone the time of the day and great drinks to match.
Dessert island drink? Salted Pina Colada direct from our slushie machine
Can you tell us about the best night you’ve had working at PS40? Hard question to answer! Too hard actually!
Who is inspiring you lately (in or out of booze)? I love watching all of our Takeover Tuesday chefs and learning from them. Everyone bring their own style, character and its impossible to not be inspired.
What your favourite bar in Aus that you don’t own? The Baxter Inn, sheerly based on the amount of visits.
Hangover cure? Bun Bo Hue.
You seem to be a big foodie – what gets you excited on a food menu? Anything that is playful and smart at the same time.
If you weren’t in the bar industry, what would you be doing? Finished med school.
What does a typical day look like for you right now? Waking up and going for a walk at 7am with my wife Carli. Work by 9am, prepping, bottling, delivering. Home by 6pm (hopefully) and dinner with Carls every night. Something that never happens unless we're locked down.
How to do approach managing a bar team and trying to keep staff invested in your venue and happy? I try to manage a team by encouraging each person's different strengths and making the best of that.