Andy Ashby, Owner Head Chef of C’est Bon Restaurant, Brisbane, talks to us about his love of combining French cuisine with new and unexpected twists using only local produce. One such recipe twist includes Andy’s creme caramel with black cardamom, apricot gel and croissant ice cream.
While jetting around the globe, sampling all the world has to offer, Andy got a taste of what he wanted to cook in his own restaurant.
And French food was where his heart lay.
Hungry to open and lead his first restaurant, when he was given the heads up on a new restaurant in Woolloongabba, he decided to go for it…And C’est Bon was born.
The first day of opening fell on Valentine’s Day was quickly fully booked and fast became a hit with the nation.
Over time Andy’s recipes have been developed and are constantly in motion, using ideas from dining experiences past, as well as from absorbing different techniques used at top restaurants in France.
Even through the tough pandemic days, Andy and his team sustained popularity offering takeaways and home deliveries.
So, what’s the secret that makes his popular eatery so successful? Andy puts it down to a few things.
A hard work ethic, working with local producers and keeping his team strong and healthy are just some of the qualities that help achieve the end goal of cooking high quality and unique dishes to keep customers returning.
“The best feeling is working in an open kitchen and watching the customer enjoy something you’ve created or sharing the passion of the dish to the customer directly,” Andy says.
Working directly with local farmers is also an important part of hospitality operations.
“Queensland and Australia have an obligation to provide enough produce within the states at a reasonable and consistent price.” It’s working with local growers that Andy finds it all adds to the storytelling and the quality of the experience.
Andy also sees the value in looking after his staff and making sure their wellbeing is at its best.
“There needs to be more focus and support around mental health in the hospitality sector to inform new staff about what to expect and how to manage it.
“I can’t count the times I’ve had conversations with staff in regard to personal matters or workplace-related.”
It’s been harder with Covid, but we must face it together and do what we love and are passionate about,” he adds.
So, how did Andy’s story begin?
From being a cheeky kid from New Zealand with a passion for food, Andy knew he wanted to create his own culinary creations.
His career started in the small town of Bulls, where he landed an apprenticeship, experiencing the good and the not-so-good that the hospitality industry had to offer.
Learning lessons along the way, Andy felt skilled enough and ready to give more in a bigger role. But his New Zealand roots couldn’t keep him there for long: He got a taste for travel and moved over to Australian shores starting with Melbourne.
It was there Andy got the role working under chef, Scott Pickett, at the prestigious lakeside eatery in Albert Park, Point Restaurant. Jumping into the deep end of the highly-acclaimed restaurant, Andy worked hard to meet the restaurant’s standards, helping it win a number of accolades.
The island dream
He got a job at the Qualia resort, where he worked with a number of guest celebrity chefs alongside top chef, Alaister Waddell.
This was just the start for Andy.
Since then, he has travelled worldwide, sampling a variety of cuisines, which inspired him on the types of food he wanted to cook in his own establishment.
For Andy, his restaurant is all about sharing its own unique story.
As a business owner, company director and role model, as well as chef, Andy’s found fulfilment in his career from playing a part in all of these roles. He offers advice for new chefs coming into the industry.
“Without hard work you don’t get the rewards.
“Come prepared to work as a team, listen, learn and absorb.”
Despite all of the travelling Andy has done, his journey as a chef remains the best.
“Challenges always arise, clients have different needs and menus are continuously evolving.
“That’s the true art of the industry in my eyes.
“Delivering not ordinary but extraordinary experiences.”