We chatted to Hugh Allen, executive chef at Melbourne’s renowned Vue de Monde restaurant, about food (obviously!), Mexico, and his favourite Australian ingredients. Here’s what he had to say.

Hi Hugh! It’s so lovely to have you on our Chef’s Hub. Let’s get the ball rolling – can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’ve been the executive chef at Vue de Monde in Melbourne since 2018, after honing my cooking skills in some of the world’s best kitchens. I spent three years at Noma with Rene Redzepi, and also spent some time cooking up a storm at his Noma Mexico pop-up in Tulum.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing instead?
Something creative, definitely! A painter, photographer, or graphic designer.

Tell us about one of your career highlights.
It’d have to be working at Noma Mexico in Tulum. We flew out of wintery Copenhagen and landed in hot, humid, sunny Mexico – the restaurant’s FOH team even met us at the airport with frozen mojitos, which was such an awesome welcome. The calibre of interns in the kitchen in Mexico was so high, just a great bunch of young cooks who brought a great atmosphere to the team. The restaurant itself didn’t have a roof or a floor or any fancy equipment; it was just this incredible space in the middle of the jungle, and probably the best restaurant I’ve even seen.

What’s your favourite fresh produce at the moment?
One word: asparagus.

What’s your favourite native bushfood to cook with and why do you love it?
Muntries or Strawberry Gum, I think. These are the most delicious to me. Muntries are just so versatile and can be cooked with savoury and sweet dishes, or pickled and preserved. Strawberry Gum is awesome; I had such a wow moment when I first used it! It’s crazy – the aroma and flavour; it tastes just like strawberry bubble gum!

Tell us something our readers might find interesting about you.
Hmm… When I’m not cooking up epic degustations at Vue de Monde, my favourite thing to cook is chicken parma! I also love cooking with Aussie seafood – we’re so spoiled for choice here.

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