It was 2012 when you first won MasterChef & emerged yourself in a career in the food industry – what would you say has been the biggest challenge since your win & what advice would you give to the next winner that you wish someone had shared with you? The biggest challenge to date is running a restaurant. Just the day to day challenges are insane! Weirdly, I think that’s why I love it though – no matter how many hours I spend in the restaurant, the rush, pressure and level of intensity keeps me coming back for more. There’s probably a simple piece of advice in there, do what you love. When you love it, you’ll put in more and more effort to make it as successful as possible.
Do you get a chance to cook at home? If you had to choose one signature dish to cook what would it be and why? I love cooking at home. In fact, the more that I cook at home, the better the food is in the restaurant. Our food at The Ducks is just an extension of the food we cook at home and what we love to eat. At home, I’m a pasta fein. For me, pasta is the best vehicle to throw in anything tasty that you might have in the fridge, and create something epic in ten minutes.
Who/what would you say is your biggest influence when it comes to food? Ironically, it was Three Blue Ducks and still is in a way. Coming out of MasterChef I still didn’t really know what my food was. After hanging with the boys longer and longer I realised that fresh, seasonal, colourful, textural and most importantly flavoursome food is my food. These days, although I’m now a co owner, there’s nothing more fun and inspiring than getting together with Mark and Daz to create a few different dishes.
When developing a collection, we continue to be influenced a lot by architecture and our travel experiences; where do you draw your inspiration for new recipes? Obviously travel plays a huge source of inspiration for me also. Just getting away and out of the kitchen really ignites your creativity. People often find this a little strange though – being surrounded by fresh produce day in and day out, most people find it hard to believe that I’d have to look elsewhere for inspiration. But it’s when I’m away from the kitchen, albeit still cooking, reading and even just eating out, that most of my ideas stem from.
The food & beverage scene in Sydney has become just as much about the interiors and overall experience as it has a great food offering & the overall sector seems to be going through a boom stage – what would you put this down to? I think it’s down to Sydney having such a high level of restaurants and eateries. Gone are the days where you could just put up a tasty plate of food and survive in the industry. Food, drink, service, space are just a few of the variables that make up a successful business today. Interiors, like you said play a huge part. At Three Blue Ducks Rosebery, we are lucky enough to have a stunning heritage listed warehouse which really speaks for itself.
As the owner & chef of restaurant Three Blue Ducks Rosebery; I can imagine how busy you must be – what do you do to relax? How do you spend your downtime? Well, I’m currently writing the answers to these questions from a day bed in Airlie Beach. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city is hugely important for me. Not being a city slicker growing up, I have an existing connection with escaping and exploring whether that be by the ocean or in the outback.
What’s next for Andy? The challenge of running a successful restaurant is ongoing and something that just when you think you’re doing okay at it, it will throw you something new to wrangle. So that will continue to keep me busy, but I’m also in pre-production for a new series of “Andy & Ben Eat Australia”. With the first series focused around the east coast of Australia, the obvious choice for us was to target the west. At this stage, if we can raise the cash sooner rather than later, we will set out to shoot next Feb!
How would you describe your personal style? I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to my personal style. In saying that, I always like to look my best. Just to be clear, that’s easily the hardest question I’ve had to answer!
Name the one item that you will never leave home without? My Birkenstocks. Although don’t think I’m talking about the cool sandals that walk the streets of Bondi in summer. I wear a Birkie kitchen shoe to work. They’re lifesavers.
A perfect Saturday for you would consist of…. Being in hospo, Saturday is our busiest day of the week. We’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which makes for a super hectic day. My perfect Saturday, would be doing 700+ covers with all three services running silky smooth. In saying that, I’m currently at the beach, it’s 2:30pm, 25 degrees and I’ve got a beer at my feet……. that’s currently up there.
Weekends in my town…
- What to do: Eat and drink! What else is there??
- Where to go: Pinbone in Kensington before it closes down!
- Best Kept Secret: Canton Noodle House in Haymarket. Get the eggplant!
Find Andy Allen on Instagram @andyallen444