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Britain To Byron: Chef Darren Robertson's Food Journey

How the chef swapped city for surf.

Darren Robertson is not exactly what you imagine when you think about a successful chef. He's nothing like the ill-tempered caricature of a blustering red-faced bloke in chef's whites, barking orders at underlings.

The 40-year-old British chef behind Three Blue Ducks is a towering, warm, smiling type of man. He's the kind of guy you'd like to pop round and cook dinner for your mates before all heading to the pub. He calls his suppliers "brother" and he doles out his big grin with ease.

"I'm not interested in shouting and screaming and any of that caper," Robertson explained.

He's a good bloke. A food enthusiast, a surfer, a husband to meteorologist Magdalena Roze and father to one-year-old son, Archie.

Robertson grew up on a council estate in England. He fell into cooking almost by accident and trained under Mark Raffan, before moving to Australia and working his way up to be head chef at Tetsuya Wakuda's Tetsuya's restaurant in Sydney.

Then Robertson left, started Taste Of Young Sydney and Table Sessions -- pop up dinners by promising young chefs in Sydney -- before getting involved in Three Blue Ducks, which now has restaurants in Sydney's Bronte and Rosebery, and Three Blue Ducks on The Farm in Byron Bay.

He now lives up the road from Byron Bay with Roze and Archie, but he's travelled from England to Sydney to get there -- with a few TV shows, cook books, three successful Three Blue Ducks restaurants and a stint on My Kitchen Rules as a guest judge along the way.

"A cafe was opened by three of my friends, years ago, in Bronte that went gangbusters straight away," Robertson said.

Robertson and Jeff Bennett then joined Mark Labrooy, Sam Reid-Boquist and Chris Sorrell -- the original Three Blue Ducks. A popular Sydney based cafe, Three Blue Ducks expanded into a growing empire of relaxed, friendly restaurants that use locally sourced produce, sustainable food and environmental practices.

"The whole street became a food hub, lots of community gardens and food boxes. We had the idea of then having our own farm... (and) were then given the opportunity to open a restaurant on a farm in Byron. And we all surf, and we love Byron, so that was a really difficult decision!"

Robertson makes the journey sound easy, but Three Blue Ducks has come a long way from three blokes surfing in Sydney and making great food. They have more than 200 staff, and Robertson's new project, a cafe named Rocker in Sydney's Bondi, opened in June. He's a good bloke, made good.

"I really just wanted to cook, because I thought it would give me independence and allow me to travel anywhere," Robertson said. "As soon as you roll your sleeves up and have a go, people latch on."

At Johnnie Walker, we love sharing stories of personal progress, innovation and spirit. And why wouldn't we? Our own story is one of a pioneering spirit passed on from generation to generation. It's this belief in the philosophy of perseverance and progress that allows us to continuously share inspiring stories to all.

In this series, we are shining a light on people who approach life with this same philosophy – one of a humane, resilient and optimistic mindset, especially in the face of adversity that enables them to Keep Walking.

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