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Real Food, Good Company | Byron Bay ~ Rosebery ~ Melbourne ~ Nimbo ~ Bellingen
REAL FOOD EXPERIENCES ACROSS FOUR VENUES. EXPLORE OUR LOCAL OFFERS.
Andy was only one exam away from becoming a fully qualified Electrician, but knowing he wasn’t satisfied with being a sparky for the rest of his life, he took a dare from one of his good mates to enter as a contestant on MasterChef 2012.
This is where Andy met Mark and Darren as they were guest chefs on the show.
Once he was on the show, Andy was open to admitting he was by far the most inexperienced and weakest cook amongst the group. Andy read, he researched, he watched and listened and saw every opportunity as a learning opportunity. After an 8 month commitment, locked away from his friends and family on some sort of rapid culinary apprenticeship on steroids, Andy emerged the youngest winner of MasterChef with a thirst to learn as much as he could about food.
With learning being at the top of Andy's list he reached out to the boys at The Ducks and took a role down at Three Blue Ducks Pop Up at Falls Creek in 2013.
Then in 2016 Andy officially became part of the group, becoming a co-owner of Three Blue Ducks Rosebery.
A chef with a passionate advocate of farm-to-table cooking, Darren champions sustainability and using ethically farmed produce.
Darren trained in the UK under acclaimed Chef Mark Raffan at the Michelin-starred Gravetye Manor. Moving to Australia in 2001, his skills were further honed working at Tetsuya’s, where Darren rose to the position of Head Chef. At the time, the restaurant held three chefs hats and was voted the 5th best restaurant in the world. In 2011, Darren founded The Table Sessions – a guerilla-style dining experience, which was awarded Best Event by Australian Gourmet Pages.
In 2012, Daz joined forces with like-minded mates at Three Blue Ducks.
Daz is also the co-author of three cookbooks and writes for Delicious. He has appeared on MasterChef, Iron Chef USA, The Great Australian Cookbook and MKR. He is an ambassador for the Australian Cancer Council, Oz Harvest and sits on the judging panel for the Delicious Produce Awards.
When he’s not foraging or surfing, he’s in the kitchen cooking, fermenting, pickling, and testing recipes with his fiancée – meteorologist, journalist, TV presenter and food author, Magdalena Roze, and sons, Archie and Charlie.
Mark started his career in cooking straight after high school in 1999 and landed an apprenticeship under Klaus Huber, the executive chef for Bennelong and the Opera House restaurants. He went on to work at Tetsuyas where he met fellow mate and Duck, Darren Robertson. Opting out of fine dining, he was invited to run café Morso on Jones Bay Wharf and became a registered buyer at the Sydney Fish Markets, where he selected fresh fish for services daily (right up his alley).
In 2004, he left to live the dream, snowboarding and cooking in chalets during the winters and surfing the French, Portuguese, Spanish and Moroccan coastlines during the summer with his well-earned Swiss Francs. In 2008, Mark set up residence in Zurich where he worked at Josef and quickly became the sous under the owner/head chef, loving the progressive style of cooking in an otherwise traditional cuisine city.
It was 2010 when the penny dropped and the idea behind Three Blue Ducks came to fruition. The Ducks found instant success and became the first café to be invited to the Good Food Guide restaurant awards under a new category 'best breakfast'. Three Ducks became five when they joined forces with Jeff Bennett and Darren Robertson to open for dinner. Six weeks later, they were awarded their first hat.
In 2014, The Ducks built and opened Three Blue Ducks on The Farm in Byron Bay for which they were awarded Gourmet Traveller’s Best Regional Restaurant. In 2016, Three Blue Ducks Rosebery opened with co-owner Andy Allen, which was awarded a hat in the 2018 Good Food Guide. The Ducks newest venture is a restaurant at the W hotel in Brisbane. Mark has co-written three books, The Blue Ducks (2012), Real Food (2014) and Blue Ducks in the Country (2017), and is an OzHarvest ambassador.
Passionate about subsistence hunting, Mark largely hunts wild animals considered pests, such as deer, rabbits, kangaroos and goats, and spearfishes for Spanish mackerel, tuna, snapper, mahi-mahi, squid, cuttlefish, lobster and sea urchin – everything he hunts, he eats. For Mark, hunting is an important way of engaging with the environment, and becoming an advocate to protect it.
Away from the tools Marky, as he is affectionately known, is as avid road bike motorcycle racer, cyclist, forager, surfer and loving partner to his wife, Hannah.
After a stellar career at 13 delivering pharmaceuticals on his bike, Jeff moved on and found his feet with his first foray in the food industry. Not quite the upper end of the industry, but a brief stint at McDonald's was at least the first step on the ladder. From the Big Mac to small restaurants “Hospo” took him through the school years and led him to study hospitality business management at uni before giving in to a beckoning call to travel the world.
After a bizarre "epiphany" Jeff returned to Oz to study computer science and then worked as a programmer at Macquarie Bank where he learnt what it was like to be a "fish out of water" and do something that you have no passion for.
With various attempts at finding his place in the working world, he decided the next move was to go out on his own.
At the time he was living in Bronte and was amazed at the lack of decent food options for such a busy little area. A few months later a shiny new pizza shop opened and he had his first business.
As luck would have it, a few months later, three young lads (aka Three Blue Ducks) opened a cafe next door. The four boys became mates, explored the world of food and beer and then one day, over a discussion about chicken soup, Mark (chef duck) and Jeff came up with a crazy idea of joining the two spaces together, knocking some holes in walls, putting tables in the alley between, building a bar and taking Three Blue Ducks to the next level. One week later the pizza shop closed and the tools were out.
Born and bred in Bronte, Chriso grew up with saltwater in his blood. Both his parents loved the ocean, surfing and spearfishing, so it was inevitable that he spent most of his youth in the water.
After studying a sports science degree Chris decided to travel the world, spending 5yrs mostly in Europe and North Africa, but also in Indonesia, surfing of course. One favourite spot was Morocco where he met future Duck, Mark Labrooy. Three Blue Ducks were born.
With little or no experience in Hospitality but plenty of enthusiasm, a background in retail and people skills he knew it wouldn’t be easy.
He had a passion for coffee and dove in deep, turning that passion into a skill. With the help of the crew at Single O, Chris honed his knowledge and ability, learning a lot of the coffee business on the job once Three Blue Ducks Bronte opened.
Since then the coffee culture in Australia has changed immensely, and with it the detail that Chris puts into the coffee at Three Blue Ducks.
Today Three Blue Ducks are well renowned for its incredible in-house coffee culture purely because of this dedication and devotion, Chris has to get every cup right. He also implemented Three Blue Ducks Tea range that can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.
Born in Surry Hills in the heart of the Sydney City, Sam Reid was drawn to the salty brine of the ocean from a young age. During his early childhood years, his family moved to Bronte Beach where he grew up in a thick community of local surfers. Growing up in a family with a love for great food, Sam always had an appreciation for quality produce. At the age of 23, he started what was to be a successful fruit box business call 'Fruitman Sam' which ran throughout the Eastern Suburbs.
A few years later while vagabonding overseas he and his two close friends Mark Labrooy and Chris Sorrell stemmed the idea to start a cafe together. A short while later on his return, Sam had found a location in his hometown of Bronte and things moved quickly. Three Blue Ducks opened with a bang. Mark Labrooy's bold cooking, Chris Sorrell's attention to detail with coffee and Sam's welcoming customer service meant they had queues out the door from day one, most of them being the local community. They won 'Best Breakfast in Sydney' in the first year they were open and things rolled on from there.
Three Ducks became six with Darren Robertson, Jeff Bennett and Andy Allen – and the boys now have four humming restaurants across NSW and Queensland in Bronte, Byron, Rosebery and Brisbane. Sam still works in the restaurants full-time and now resides in the Northern Rivers with his partner Daisy and their two boys.
Growing up and working in kitchens around Byron Bay for the last 17 years I could not see myself anywhere other than the Ducks. The philosophy and connection to the food are close to my heart.
Having direct contact with who, how, why and where your food is grown is an integral part of my personal and professional life. When you have an understanding of where your food comes from and what goes into it, it gives you a different appreciation and respect for the product.
I have been cooking ever since I can remember, one of my first memories is making bread with Mormor (Mum’s Mum).
Food was always a focus for my family growing up, I learnt to make dishes for our Danish celebration feasts.
This carried me into my first job at 14 years old, at a small pizza place. Here I saw the enjoyment of the diner’s first hand, which motivated me to improve my knowledge and skills. Here I worked through to my HSC. Then went into an apprenticeship. I learnt all different the sides of catering and wholesale. It also introduced me to early starts having dozens of cakes and muffins ready for delivery to cafes by 7am.
From here I started working in Lennox head, finished my apprenticeship and moved into the Head Chef at 23 and loved the challenge. Then onto Newrybar while I was Head Chef, our team won their first hat. A proud moment for me. Learning every day working with amazing produce and people is what inspires me.
I make coffee. That's it.
When I was younger I had a job doing door-to-door sales, and instead of grinding it out trying to talk to as many people as possible, I'd be checking to see where the best coffee in the suburb was; where I'd hang out and drink coffee all day. Obviously, that didn't work out too well so I decided to find a job making coffee.
I literally love it. Being able to talk to people all day about a product I'm super interested in is my definition of "living the dream". At The Ducks, we're lucky enough to have some epic equipment and are able to get our hands on some incredible coffees from all over the world. I enjoy learning more about the processing and growing involvement in getting some of these super delicious flavours from a pretty basic plant.
If I'm not going about the daily grind at The Ducks, I'm more than likely working for myself in the coffee trailer that my wife and I own.
English born and raised, I came to Australia in 2014, where I quickly joined the Three Blue Ducks at their original outpost in Bronte, Sydney! Back then, there was only one restaurant and all of the owners worked out of it! Being part of a company that really cared about the farmers and the growers who were supplying them with produce, the Ducks passion was infectious. I still feel so fortunate to work for a company that's renowned as the Sydney progenitors of paddock to plate, grow it yourself, minimum waste movement.
I suppose not surprisingly, during my time with Three Blue Ducks, my interest in agriculture – in particular pertaining to the world of viticulture – piqued. Over the last five years, I have loved exploring the country's amazing and varied wine regions, discovering and learning as much as I can about Australia's wine industry. So much so, I am now studying a Bachelor of Viticulture alongside my role as the group's sommelier!
I took some time out to travel around Australia and fell in love with Byron Bay in 2014. The idea of moving here wouldn’t go away, and I kept dreaming of creating a life for myself and finding a job in my field. I moved here within the year.
I was introduced to Three Blue Ducks and was very inspired by the project and their ethos. Our values are really aligned. I thought that I could contribute and create something different to what they already offered, pushed for a job.
I started with working on the floor, and not long after I started I began talking to the owners, highlighting my experience in events coupled with sending my CV to them every week for 2 months!!! I really wanted to show them just what I could bring to the company.
I was offered the position I kept putting myself forward for, and set about creating an entire department from scratch. That has been a huge and exciting project, for which I am incredibly grateful for.
Now we have a well-established department and over 50 happy couples.
The wedding industry comes with challenges but working for the boys I feel really supported.
I love the fact that I am creating the most magical day for a couple. It makes it all worthwhile and reassures me that this is exactly where I am meant to be.
When you call I’m usually the one that answers the phone.
I wanted to work at The Ducks as I love to cook and to eat. The Ducks philosophy of using locally sourced, sustainable, ingredients, reducing waste and considering the environment are all important to me. It’s amazing to work alongside so many like-minded people.
I get to work across all three restaurants, which means no two days are the same. Working with chefs, the FOH team and in the office team, it is so interesting to me to see how each of these sections work and how they all come together to create The Ducks experience for the customer. Everyday I am impressed by all the staff who work so hard and still manage to laugh and have fun.
Everyone who visits us has a different story, I enjoy chatting to so many different people and hearing why they are coming in. People come together over a meal to celebrate all sorts of occasions and it’s so great that they choose to celebrate with us and share their story with me when they call to book.
There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing an event all fall into place - even better to have a client approach you to say that their event was everything they imagined and more. I love that the ethos of Three Blue Ducks continues to attract like-minded clients who have a passion for good food, urban aesthetics and having a great time! My role at Three Blue Ducks allows me to be involved from the conception of ideas to the planning, creation and execution of a wide range of events, functions, parties and weddings.
During the 15 years I have worked in the hospitality industry I have developed extensive experience in on the spot problem solving - ensuring that customer experience always comes first - even when the unexpected pops up. I have worked in many different areas of events however I would have to say my keen eye for detail was developed over the 6 year period I spent managing a team of stewardesses running events for high profile clients onboard luxury yachts between the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. I now am well practised in coordinating successful events and functions and maintain great relationships with external suppliers and contractors.
Every client has a different idea of how they want their event to run and I absolutely love assisting in that process whether it be consultation or collaboration. My main aim is that your event unfolds exactly how you envisioned.
Pawel Klodowski has joined Three Blue Ducks from his previous role as chef de cuisine at hatted restaurant Noosa Beach House, where he worked and trained alongside Peter Kuruvita.
Having completed his education and training in Poland, Pawel continued his international career over the subsequent 15 years working in world-class restaurants in his home country of Poland, as well as in Ireland, Denmark, the US, Cyprus, Copenhagen, Fiji and Samoa.
Growing up with his family on a two and a half acre property on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Adam developed a love for sustainable food from an early age, always eager to get out into the garden after a school day and on weekends to grow his own veggies and collect eggs from the farm’s chickens.
In 2006, Adam began his hospitality studies and was in awe of a visiting guest chef. The following year he began work as an apprentice in the restaurant of that same chef, before moving onto work within the industry in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast and Mayfair in London.
Throughout his culinary journey, Adam’s passion for fresh produce and reduced kitchen waste has continued, taking home restaurant scraps such as pineapple tops and avocado seeds to regrow in his own garden. Adam’s mission is to encourage others to waste nothing wherever possible and to have fun with growing your own produce.
REAL FOOD EXPERIENCES ACROSS FIVE VENUES. EXPLORE OUR LOCAL OFFERS.
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Refuel between waves with our simple, real food
My obsession for the hospitality industry started when I was a lost 20 year old party kid who had just moved to London, I luckily landed a job within the ottolenghi group, where I stayed for 5 years. That changed my life forever.
I moved to Melbourne in 2013 to try (but fail) to get a sun tan, I worked for some really influential chefs and fell in love with the ever evolving Australian food scene.
The sun tan/lying by the beach all day dream grew stronger so I moved to Byron bay (sun tan still failed, alas my fair English complexion), and I just had to work for the Ducks. Their food philosophy rang so true with me ‘head to tail, root to leaf, paddock to plate & reduce, reuse, recycle’. Easy words to say but, inspiringly they practice what they preach daily. They took me under their wing nurturing my growth as a chef and tolerating my cheeky ways.
A couple of years into my time at the ducks, Darren (my favourite owner, sorry Jeff. Jokes, I love you all equally) approached me and my partner about a space they wanted to turn into a modern wine bar, and as of that day ‘Oma’ was born.
Natural wines all made by female winemakers, banging cocktails and local produce turned into simple but tasty dishes. Hand made sourdough, grilled steaks, anchovies, small plates, larger plates and a killer team of superstars that I had the privilege to lead as my first head chef gig…and most importantly, the ramen eggs!
Now I’ve been given the opportunity to head up the Melbourne kitchen, where I want to share my passion and love for the industry and the Ducks. I’m excited to use the wood fired oven to create dishes full of flavour and texture whilst using the core fundamentals of the Duck’s ethos and style.
I was raised in a household with great food at its heart. Each social occasion meant pulling out recipe books, lists of ingredients, days of preparation, and a thorough run sheet. I learnt from a young age how effective food is at bringing people together.
All my first jobs were in hospitality - an Italian bakery where I learnt to make coffee, the Indian restaurant that left my uniform smelling of saffron and cardamom, the bar where I poured my first beer. After university, and a decade working in scientific research, a chance to volunteer at a cooking school while living in Seattle reignited my passion for food and hospitality. After working as an event producer in the USA, I moved back to Australia in search of the perfect fit.
For me, hospitality has always been about the guests; my drive is towards building a community around good food and great wine. This love of community is what brought me to the Three Blue Ducks. I love it here. When you visit, you'll find me mixing up cocktails in the bar or chatting to guests on the floor, ensuring you all have the best experience possible.
I grew up on a property in the rural northeast of Italy, in the region called Friuli Venezia Giulia where we had pigs, cattle, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, and lots of veggies, as my dad grew up in a family of farmers, he didn’t like to go to grocery stores unless necessary.
Dad used to take me everywhere with him. One day was hunting, one day fishing, make cheeses or jams, pasta, gnocchi, passata, pickles with grandma, so every day was something different.
He taught me when to harvest vegetables and grains, what to feed the pigs to produce richness in the meat, how to cure things properly, how to fish in many different ways, how to cure products with only fire and air, how to cook with fire, how to build a clay oven on the river banks, but most importantly, to be respectful of the ingredients and animals we use, as they gave their life for us.
Due to that I’m really into Nose to Tail type of cooking, what’s seasonal and I really love game.
I landed in Sydney in October 2011, a few weeks before my birthday. After about a year of finding my feet, I moved to Paddington where I started my new job at the Paddington Inn, from there I worked at a few venues owned by Merivale and then I decided to go to Asia.
I spent a good year between Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam, I loved the food, the culture, and the differences in food between each region of every country, probably because it sent me back home for a second here and there.
In 2017, I met my wife to be and decided to move to Melbourne.
I got a job at LEMONGRASS in Carlton, I worked there for 3 years then…COVID arrived, the restaurant had to close so me and Head Chef PAULA BERTUS worked together for about a year doing Chef’s table dinners at guest houses or for bigger events when possible. After a while me and my wife Elena decided we had enough of big cities and wanted to go back to the country, where we both felt at home.
That’s when I got the job with the Ducks in Nimbo, thank God for that, and as they say, ‘the rest is history’!
From: Gloucestershire, England
Backstory: I never wanted to be a chef, I wanted to work in the Front of House of restaurants but ended up doing work experience in a kitchen whilst studying hospitality at college and found it more enjoyable and seemed to be good at it. This led to a bunch of opportunities around the UK, including my first Head Chef role at 25 in a 5 STAR hotel. I spent the next 10 years in London, working 4 years for the England MasterChef presenter, John Torode, as Head Chef of his restaurant and 5.5 years in Mayfair, running two restaurants as Executive Chef. These roles were a great development opportunity for me but living and working in Australia was something I wanted to pursue since my early 20's.
Arrival: I arrived in Australia for the first time in 2017, for a 7-week eating + drinking fest… Basically, I enjoyed lunch and dinner every day across Sydney and Melbourne's best venues! I moved back here for good in 2019, working for Merivale, Mary's Underground, and a small chain of hotels.
Present: I wanted to get back to a bustling restaurant environment and it's been the perfect time to come on as Head Chef of the Ducks in Rosebery, with hospitality scene coming back to life. I like the creativity and cooking style that the Ducks are known for and look forward the warmer months ahead.
During her 20-year accounting career, Lindsay has been fortunate enough to do the most boring job in some of Australia’s most exciting organisations including the Sydney Opera House, Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and now, Three Blue Ducks.
Lindsay has always been passionate about food and maths, which stood her in good stead to take the reins as resident numbers guru at the Ducks. When she is not quality testing the latest breakfast special or mainlining coffee, she can be found attempting to right the world’s wrongs using Microsoft Excel.
Born and raised in the north of England, Lindsay now lives in the Northern Rivers (Bundjalung Country) with her husband, two daughters, and miniature dachshund.