Why buy it?
In 2009, three surfer chef mates opened a cafe in Sydney’s beachside Bronte. Three Blue Ducks was an overnight sensation. It was a simple set-up to begin with – in an old roast chook shop – but crowds were compelled by the honest approach, which the boys combined with technical skills gleaned working in fine-dining restaurants, including Tetsuya’s.
The same tempting, unpretentious food, focus on sustainability and surfer “joie de vivre” guide The Blue Ducks, their first cookbook, written by Mark LaBrooy and Darren Robertson on behalf of the gang (which now includes a few more “ducks”).
It’s a pretty cookbook with all its bright and beautiful seaside imagery and big food shots. There are a few trite moments, but there is real heart and soul in this book, with chapters divided by produce and informative intros outlining how to choose the best of it. The easy-to-follow recipes are similarly solid, with the chefs’ helpful tips and warm voices woven throughout. It’s clear they know their stuff and a lot of effort (and refining) has gone into making the recipes just so.
This is uncomplicated flavour-forward food – that’s why it’s so appealing – but a few extra elements, from leftover herb stalks to allay waste and stain and flavour marinades to spices from afar, elevate the dishes to out-of-the-ordinary – much like the food at their hit café.
Kick-arse steak sandwich. With a name like that, and a caption “bloody delicious”, how couldn’t you?
Most surprising dish
Spiced parsnip cake, the boys’ spicy take on carrot cake, complete with chocolate chunks. “Vegetables shouldn’t just be used to accompany the main course – they’re fantastic in sweets, too.”
On their kitchen garden and the benefits of having your own: “A common misconception is that because food waste is biodegradable, it decays naturally in landfill. It is cut off from oxygen and, instead, creates methane, a toxic greenhouse gas. Above-ground home composting produces very little methane by comparison.”
Café aficionados, produce-driven cooks, lovers of flavour minus the fuss, kitchen newbies.
The Blue Ducks, Mark LaBrooy & Darren Robertson (Plum, $39.99, pbk).