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Getting Wild with Chef Andy Gale

Andy Gale has been plating up innovative dishes since he landed in Oz. Originally from the UK, Andy has become one of Melbourne's most sought after chefs - previously he's been exec chef of the St Ali group + opened his own little gem Duchess of Spotswood which he has since sold. He’s supported The Wild since our humble beginnings, featuring us on the menu at Duchess + now spreading our Wild bits all over town to cafes that he consults for, most recently Proud Mary in Collingwood. We managed to grab Andy for 10 minutes and ask him a few short sharp questions – here’s what we got out of him;

1. Tell us a bit about your life outside of the kitchen? 
It’s busy! I have three young kids with a thirst for adventure which gets me out of the house on my days off. My wife and I are also launching a small collaborative project, and I’m opening a burger shop next month. Not much down time, but it works.  

2. What made you decide to 
become a chef? Did you ever think you would make it this far? 

I sort of fell into it when I’d hang out with my Aunty Barbara, who ran a catering company out of her converted farmhouse in Ascot. She’d look after me and feed me whenever I ran away from home. I left school at 15 to do an apprenticeship in cookery, but it wasn’t until I worked with Pierre Koffman at Le Tante Claire that I felt it would be a life long career.

3. Three biggest challenges of running your own kitchen?

Staff, staff and staff. I have been lucky, but the human element is tricky, especially given that most chefs are narcissists, working in close quarters with other narcissists, for 60 plus hours a week.

4. Three highlight moments of your journey so far?

Winning a Remy for my work at the Wells in Hampstead (my first head chef job), first mainstream press review for Duchess, (thanks @danivalent), Working under the excellent Bruce Poole at Chez Bruce in London- a master of his craft and a true modern gentleman.

5. What does a typical day in the kitchen/office look like for you?

Alarm goes off at 5am to be in the kitchen by 6, get set up for service at 7, we plate the specials up for the FOH staff to have a look and a taste, have a short briefing. Service runs until 3pm, then it’s prep time to get everything locked down and ordered for the next day. Then its home to respond to emails, check the ordering and get the kids in bed.

6. Your day on a plate? 

Bits. Lots of bits, usually smeared on bread. Black coffee. Whatever's left over when the kids are done with dinner.

(Er, I mean, The Wild Porridge, a green smoothie at 10am, a light but filling salad around midday, some activated nuts to avoid that 3.30 slump, and an early dinner when I get home, usually lean protein with plenty of veg. Or pizza. Wife in charge.)

7. Favourite form of exercise?

Hiking. Silence. Yes.

8. Piece of kitchen equipment you can't live without?

Mandoline, and the humble whisk.

9. Favourite wild blend/recipe?
The Wild orange and cacao crumble. Breakfast, or dessert. Bressert.

10. Favourite way to relax and combat stress?

Take to the hills for a day. Long walks.

11. Three people who inspire you?
John Farnan at Zeally bay bread- super solid ethos, walks the talk, and goes the extra mile for his customers.

Bruce Poole from my London days. Solidly present, kind, and a pleasure to work for.

My family- I love my job, but they’re the real reason i get out of bed.

12. I know you have recently left your role of Exec chef of that St Ali group and right now you’re doing a some consulting work, but, what's next for you? 
Burgers are in the pipeline- lots of burgers. I’m opening a shop in Mentone in the next month. There’s also a plant-based takeaway range in the concept stages and a few other bits that I’ll have to keep mum on for now.

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