In our Tastemakers series, we talk to Australia's movers and shakers to learn what importance travel has to them.
Good food, good drinks, good surf. Does it get more quintessentially Australian than that? For the first time ever, a new partnership is solidifying the undeniable kinship between catching waves and eating hearty: the team of passionate chefs and avid surfers behind the Three Blue Ducks are opening their fifth restaurant at the new URBNSURF Melbourne surf park in Summer 19-20. We had the great fortune of speaking with URBNSURF founder Andrew Ross and Three Blue Ducks chef and co-owner Mark LeBrooy to discuss how Three Blue Ducks’ first Melbourne venue will perfectly complement this world-class surfing destination and what it can offer Melbourne locals and visitors for the first time.
There's nowhere like URBSURF in Australia... or the world. What inspired the concept and its location?
Ross: Surfing is an iconic Australian sport and pastime, enjoyed by people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. As a passionate lifelong surfer, I’ve been lucky enough to surf at some amazing breaks around the country. But scoring high-quality waves is always a challenge – if you’re based in Melbourne, you need the time and flexibility to travel long distances to a coast, search for a break that handles the combination of wind and swell on that day, and then negotiate potentially crowded lineups, or other marine hazards. And you have to surf during daylight hours.
URBNSURF makes surfing easier, and more accessible, by providing safe, convenient and reliable breaks that deliver perfect waves, day and night, close to the CBD and Melbourne Airport. We’re about helping people to #surfmore, from first timers through to elite surfers, and everyone in between.
Our 2-hectare surfing lagoon is similar in size to the MCG. It has crystal clear water and uses the latest-generation technology to pump out up to 1,000 perfect, customisable waves every hour for 84 surfers at a time, across four different breaks. We can deliver gentle, knee-high whitewash waves for beginners to get up, riding and stoked, through to 2m, high-performance barreling waves that will challenge even the most experienced surfers.
And it’s more than just the waves – we’ll also have the Three Blue Ducks serving up delicious, sustainable and ethically sourced food and beverages, along with a decked out surf shop, fully-equipped hire store for board and wetsuit rentals, a high-performance training academy, regular festivals and events, and lagoon-side amenities including hot tubs, day beds and landscaped spaces to relax in.
Let's talk about The immense success of Three Blue Ducks, which has grown all over Sydney and now beyond. What does it mean to you to ‘take over’ Australia like this?
LaBrooy: I really don't think we are taking over, more taking part in the hospitality industry. Every time we open a restaurant, we get to explore all the region's farms, wineries and breweries, and discover local produce and suppliers.
How do you feel about the trend of foodie travel, or booking a trip around a restaurant or chef?
LaBrooy: I usually always book travel around food experiences I'm keen to explore. One trip that stands out to me the most is Faviken, located in the north of Sweden. A few years back, my wife and I along with some good friends made the trip to Faviken. It's quite the travel to get there but it was an incredible trip filled with great food and lovely wines. Owner Magnus Nilsson was there and put on an incredible feast for us. There was a blood sausage dish that was awesome, and the king crab blew my mind. Magnus also made this home-made breakfast caviar which was all time. We kicked on for a long time and sampled a bunch of other dishes, including house-made moose salami which was also pretty epic.
Are there any foodie trends taking over Australia these days that you like?
LaBrooy: I really like the trend toward eating wild meat that I’m seeing and taking part of, at the moment. Wild deer have started appearing on menus throughout the country and I would like to see a lot more of it in the future.
Both of your businesses show great effort to be respectful of the environment and industries you operate in. What sparked your passions?
LaBrooy: Common sense is what has been the driving force with the self-imposed rules we have made to use ethical, quality ingredients. If we continue living the way we are and have been we will destroy this planet. I'm not saying we're perfect by any means, but every little bit makes a difference.
Ross: Our aim with URBNSURF is to inspire the progression of modern surfing, but in a way that’s authentic, inclusive, and protective of the environment. As Australia’s first surf park, and a team of proud surfers, we feel a strong sense of responsibility to ensure we respect the sport’s rich heritage and make a positive impact wherever we can.