Ducks with a difference

“We want to eat real food, from good, ethical sources…” Darren Robertson and Mark LaBrooy.

From the food they serve up at their café, The Three Blue Ducks in Sydney’s Bronte, to the local approach they take to sourcing and growing produce, chefs Darren Robertson and Mark LaBrooy live and breath their communal, sustainable philosophy. With a shared love of surfing and a deep reverence for the environment, Darren and Mark’s first book, The Blue Ducks, explores their passion for food, the importance of community and the joy of surfing. Packed with enticing recipes including chargrilled sardines and tender barbecued calamari, the foundation of their simple meals is seasonal, fresh ingredients rich in flavour. Their book serves to remind us of the pleasures of restoring a connection with the land and here Darren and Mark tell us why they think Australians are ready for it.

How did The Blue Ducks book come about?

The book came about when the guys from Curtis Brown asked us if we would like to write a book. We thought it would be a great way to tell our story so we said “yeah, why not”.

Today, people are more aware of where their food has come from and the importance of eating organically and sustainably, when and why do you think this has happened?

I think this is happening because of new research that indicates the importance of a carcinogen free diet, the harmful effect of genetically modified foods both physically and financially, the use of video cameras at battery farms and abattoirs and the importance of food security. On the sunny side, organic produce generally travels a lot less to get to our local market place. This in turn supports local business and helps to create a sense of community.

I believe documentaries like Food Inc, The World According to Monsanto, Food Matters and many others have helped create this awareness. It was information from these sources that helped to change our opinion; also it tastes better, much better.

Three Blue Ducks opened as a ‘cafe with a difference.’ What do you think sets it apart from others?

We actually do make everything in house, we serve what we would like to eat, play music that we want to listen to and have fun doing it!

People can feel Australia doesn’t have a typically ‘native’ cuisine. What are your thoughts?

I would agree. It’s very difficult to have a ‘native’ cuisine when our country has western influence that is only 200 years old. We are a multicultural melting pot and all of these beautiful cultures bring with it their ‘native’ food and traditions, then adapting them to the broad variety of produce we have in Australia is what makes us so special when it comes to cuisine.

It’s a warm spring afternoon… what would you think of cooking for an easy midweek meal?

I think a crispy skin piece of snapper or barramundi, with a raw beet salad and a glass of Riesling – you can’t go wrong. It takes 15 minutes tops!

What would be in your picnic basket for a day of surfing?

My picnic basket would have a roast chicken, whole egg mayo, some quality sourdough, a couple of good hearty salads and a handful of grapes.

What travel destinations inspire your cooking?

I find street food and any market places in any city inspiring.

What advice do you have for people to achieve better health?

My advice is to try and incorporate plenty of exercise, a variety of fresh produce and a work life balance.

The Blue Ducks by Darren Robertson and Mark LaBrooy is published by Plum.

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