For anyone who watched the 2012 series of Masterchef, you’d probably remember Andy Allen and Ben Milbourne. The two Aussie cooks, hailing from Newcastle and Tasmania respectively, became close mates during the series, and this May saw the culmination of this friendship, with the premier of their web series Andy & Ben Do Mexico.
The boys say sharing the camera together in their own project brings out a classic, laconic chemistry; their dynamism, humour and quest to continue learning meant that a project together with a dual presenting role was a natural progression.
Co-created and produced by Sydney based branded content house Projucer, and directed by El Davros, the series was shot in Mexico in October 2013. Allen and Milbourne took in the sights, smells, flavours and culture that the country has to offer during one of Intrepid Travel’s Real Food Adventure tours that took them to Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca, as well as numerous Pacific Coast locations and up into the Chiapas region.
The boys learnt about the tradition and passion that accompanies Mexican cooking, and the series aims to share these learnings, as well as give them a firsthand insight into what was a crazy, fast paced experience across Mexico with great mates.
Episode three has just been released this week, and GRAM caught up with Andy Allen to quiz him on YouTube, Mexican cooking and future plans.
Why did you choose YouTube to launch the series?
Allen: I’m fortunate to have reached a global audience and YouTube was really the best option to be able to share content to them all. The MasterChef series that Ben and I were in has been shown in over 90 countries, so we’re getting followers from Ireland, South Africa and Portugal.
Also, we can essentially write our own rules on YouTube – there are fewer restrictions than television, so we can be really honest in what we share. What you get is a raw documentary of exactly what we experienced over there – which may range from hangovers to the odd swearword – but that’s what happens!
Australian’s have a love of cooking Mexican food – do we do it justice?
Allen: Yeah, look I think we do a pretty good job at it. More and more people are realising that it’s not just burritos and corn chips (we didn’t actually see one burrito the whole time we were in Mexico). It’s about flavours and cooking techniques.
We’re lucky in Australia with produce too – In Mexico everything is so fresh and full of flavours, so the dishes are often made of fewer ingredients but the taste is mind-blowing. In the last couple of years we’ve seen a few really stand out Mexican restaurants come on the market and they’re doing some exciting dishes that respect the Mexican way of cooking. It’s great to see the Australian take on Mexican food mature and be continually learning and improving.
What’s next for Andy & Ben?
Allen: From a cooking point of view I’m continually honing my skills – always learning, reading, taking in what other people are doing and experimenting. I’m lucky to work at the Three Blue Ducks in Bronte and the guys there are awesome – they’ve taken me under their wing and I’m learning a lot. They also let me to bring my cooking style and attitude into the kitchen, which I am very grateful for.
There is another series in the mix for late this year – again it’s going to be part food, travel and adventure and I can’t wait.
There will be several Andy & Ben Do… series’, each one focusing on some of best food meccas around the world. It’s going to be a tough one to try and top Mexico, but I’m up for it!
Andy & Ben Do Mexico airs on Andy Allen’s YouTube channel every Thursday night, with the final episode showing on June 19.