Masterchef 2012 winner Andy Allen is busier than ever, including a recent stint as a fashion model with H&M and a range of cooking projects.
After his much-watched victory in the 2012 season of Masterchef, Allen left his career as an electrician behind to jump into a varied career utilising his cooking skills. So for that has encompassed writing a book working at hatted cafe Three Blue Ducks, starting a Youtube cooking channel along with mate and fellow Masterchef contestant Ben Milbourne (pictured with Andy, below), and travelling to cuisine holy grails such as Mexico, Spain and Portugal, which have both provided content for the Youtube venture and Allen’s free-to-air show, Andy And Ben Eat The World, on Network Ten. Men’s Style spoke with Allen about his whirlwind life, encapsulated in a line in his website bio: “People always ask me ‘What’s your thing?’ My thing is, I don’t have a thing. And I like it that way.”
How did the show on 10 come about?
I launched my Youtube channel about two yeaw ago with a series on Mexico. That was just on-the-go shooting with a small crew – two lads travelling, drinking eating and having a great time. Channel 10 got in touch and said they loved the concept and could we do more for a series, so we went back to some other places like Spain and Portugal and the result was Andy And Ben Eat The World.
What were the most memorable experiences on those trips?
In Mexico we were sitting on the beach in Puerto Escondido and a guy came up and asked if wanted to go fishing. We took one camera out on the back of this tiny fishing boat, not thinking we’d catch anything but within half an hour we’d caught a two-metre sailfish and three dolphin fish… we took them back to where we weire staying and cooked it up for the whole village.
What about Spain and Portugal?
In Spain we went to one of the oldest and best wineries in the country, in Rioja. The whole vineyard was unbelievable, with different wine artefacts, Picassos on the walls… so much history. In Portugal we hooked up with Jose Arvillez, who’s basically the Jamie Oliver of Portugal and has done books, TV shows and runs about six restaurants throughout the country. We met him in a market which wasn’t meant to be open that day – he called vendors up and asked if they could open especially. He was like a mate after about half an hour and took us back to one of his restaurants where we cooked about five dishes in half an hour, sat down and had a feed with him. It was just amazing to be in touch with someone like him, so thoughtful and open.
Are you more cook or chef now?
I would say I now have the skill set to be called a chef. I haven’t done my training because I feel like I’m cooking around people who are giving me those skills and I’d be able to open a restaurant confident enough in my cooking abilities. I think that’s more important than a little piece of paper.
What sort of style of food would you do In your own restaurant?
I don’t restrict myself. I go through phases about what I cook but at the end of the day, for me to just about really tasty food. There are so many people trying to do different things – Paleo or whatever. I don’t think you need to be eating Paleo to be healthy, you just need to be eating good, solid food that is based around fresh produce.
What’s this business about you modelling for H&M?
I’d never done any modelling and didn’t know how I’d go but I said yes and I was surprised how fun it was. I was all suited up for Spring Racing. It was much easier than I was expecting it to be.