Ducks co-owner and head chef Andy Allen is returning to the MasterChef kitchen next year – but this time, it’s as a judge, not a contestant. A lot’s changed since he won the cooking show in 2012…
After entering MasterChef in 2012, off the back of a dare from one of my best buddies, I soon realised that I was in over my head and fully underdone to be in such a crazy competition. For most of my time in the kitchen, I was in survival mode – but there were a couple of challenges that, when I look back, have played a big part in where I am today.
I loved the team challenges!! Playing a lot of sport right up until I went on the show, I thrived in the MasterChef team environment and it was obvious looking back that leading a team came naturally. The first offsite challenge showed just that. I was the captain of one of the teams and our task was to come up with a small menu and take over a restaurant for the night. With absolutely no kitchen experience, I was pretty overwhelmed, but somehow it went well and I loved every minute.I thrived under the pressure of organising the team and problem solving on the go – and, although it was only the first challenge of many, I look back at that and realise that it played a pretty big part in where I am now.
I actually first met The Ducks on MasterChef. They were invited to cook in the kitchen as guest chefs for an elimination challenge. I was really drawn to the way Mark, Darren and Shaz at that point handled themselves in the kitchen and obviously their food was bloody epic, even Marky’s cold pasta dish! After the show, I moved to the Eastern suburbs of Sydney and dined at Three Blue Ducks in Bronte. Again, I was hooked on the food and the relaxed vibe, but also how much fun the guys looked like they were having in the kitchen.
A year after MasterChef finished, I decided to take a casual job in the kitchen down in Falls Creek, where The Ducks did a pop-up for the snow season. Everything about it was fun, but they were also able to put an amazing product out for the punters. After my first shift in the kitchen with none other than fellow owner Mark Labrooy, he said to me, “You weren’t as bad as I thought you were going be.” That was enough for me, I knew I’d found my place and I knew I wanted to take cooking as far as I possibly could.
A few things you might not know about MasterChef…
– The filming goes for 7 months. In that time you live in a house with all of the other contestants. You go too and from the house and the studio everyday.
– You get 1 x 10 minute phone call per week. Choose wisely.
– We were only permitted to drink two standard drinks of alcohol per week. Myself and a couple of other legends took matters into our own hands, though, and made a hectic batch of homemade ginger beer, and got everyone totally sideways one night. We were then banned from drinking. It was all worth it though!