The surf-lov­ing chef famed for his farm-to-ta­ble phi­los­o­phy says mas­ter­ing food sim­plic­ity is a fine art.


“The best place for me to be is in the kitchen, cook­ing and be­ing part of a team,” says Mark LaBrooy, chef and co-founder of the Three Blue Ducks restau­rant group. “I love ex­plor­ing food, play­ing around with ideas and work­ing with the like-minded peo­ple you get in this in­dus­try.” The keen surfer fos­tered a love of the culi­nary arts early in life thanks to Nils Ström­land, his un­cle, role model and chef at Fisk. By the age of 18, Mark em­barked on a ca­reer in the kitchen that saw him earn his first stripes at Tet­suya’s and then Cafe Morso be­fore the travel bug bit. Seven years in the North­ern Hemi­sphere in­cluded stops in Morocco and Switzer­land, where he added the pres­ti­gious Josef, in Zurich, to his CV, and saw him cross paths with his fu­ture busi­ness part­ners, Bronte lo­cals Chris Sor­rell and Sam Reid-Bouquist. When the trio all re­turned to Syd­ney the first thing on their minds was to start the busi­ness they’d of­ten talked about and, in Septem­ber 2010, they opened the doors of Three Blue Ducks in Bronte. Com­bin­ing a win­ning menu with the sus­tain­abil­ity phi­los­o­phy of us­ing or­ganic, fair-trade, bio­dy­namic and lo­cally sourced pro­duce; com­pre­hen­sive waste-re­duc­tion mea­sures; rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing; so­lar-elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion and run­ning a kitchen gar­den that re­cy­cles food waste, Three Blue Ducks saw its busi­ness model suc­ceed be­yond early ex­pec­ta­tions. Two more out­lets have fol­lowed: a restau­rant and pro­duce store which opened some two years ago at The Farm – a 33-hectare prop­erty in By­ron Bay – and an­other open­ing in Rose­bery, Syd­ney, last year. For Mark, the eth­i­cal busi­ness prac­tice ex­tends be­yond re­cy­cling or food prove­nance: “I feel re­spon­si­bil­ity also to the peo­ple who de­pend on us for a liv­ing.” While the zuc­chini that forms the hero of the recipe Mark has cre­ated for Pride & Pro­duce can be grown at The Farm, the Ducks in Syd­ney rely on Cooks Co-op, the brain­child of for­mer Lon­grain head chef, Martin Boetz. As well as grow­ing veg­eta­bles on an 11-hectare prop­erty in the Hawkes­bury River re­gion of NSW, Boetz has formed a co-op­er­a­tive with other grow­ers in the area to dis­trib­ute sea­sonal, freshly har­vested pro­duce to a long list of restau­rants where food prove­nance and qual­ity are pri­or­ity.

The start­ing point of any raw dish is the very fresh­est of in­gre­di­ents, and great stor­age is equally as im­por­tant as good pro­duce.

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