Chef Amber Doig is a force to be reckoned with. Born and raised in Christchurch, Amber moved to Australia to start her career working under some of our best chefs before moving to New York which is where her passion for bold, flavourful Mexican and Ibero-American cuisine was born. Since returning to Australia, Amber has taken over the kitchen at The Butler Potts Point and is leading the culinary vision behind their mouthwatering menu (a modern take on Ibero-American cuisine).
Amber has a wealth of foodie knowledge and her passion and talent are evident to anyone who enjoys her food. Our lucky foodies were treated to just that at our recent Bottomless Long Lunch at The Butler in September.
We recently caught up with Amber to talk to her about her inspiration, the moment that changed her as a chef and the ingredients she cannot live without.
Tell us a little about your background and why you became a chef.
It was purely something I enjoyed, also my mum was in catering so I grew up around kitchens and “helped” Mum with prep for events in my pre-teens. I started to look at pursuing cooking as a career during high school and decided to do so in Sydney due to family ties and the famous chefs I knew were over here, such as Christine Mansfield, Kylie Kwong, Tetsuya Wakuda and Justin North.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
My first love was Italian cuisine, specifically Venetian from my many years with Chef Vanessa Martin at Il Piave. I still draw from this experience to this day. For the past 5 years, I have been focused on learning the methods and ingredients from Central and South America, with a Mexican twist. I love the stories and traditions behind Indigenous preparations and how they met and melded with immigrants to the area over time.
We are huge fans behind the menu at The Butler. What was your inspiration behind it?
It may not sound poetic but there are many contributing factors to writing a menu, especially in the current climate. Seasonality, cost, labour and functionality must all be taken into consideration when writing a menu. In regards to dish creation, I try to cook dishes which I or my friends would like to eat or versions of my favourites from the past, as well as things my chefs would like to cook while staying true to the traditional techniques as much as possible in a commercial kitchen.
What is a moment in your career that you can pinpoint as a moment that changed you as a chef?
Working in New York, but specifically working during NYC Restaurant week. Any chef who has worked there knows its 2 weeks of reduced priced set menus at the city’s top restaurants to drive the locals out to eat during the off season. You just get hammered night after night during this time, so it’s basically a wake-up call for the ego being “in the weeds” for an entire fortnight.
It made me not sweat the small stuff and truly appreciate the importance of having a good team behind you.
When it comes to hosting a successful event what do you think are the most important things to consider?
My three tops tips are to think about:
- Who is attending
- Creating a comfortable atmosphere
- All about the preparations, which ensures you are present and actually able to enjoy the gathering
What are the top three ingredients you can’t live without?
Garlic, Mexican oregano and white onions.
What’s your favourite thing to EAT?
Sashimi, oysters, smoked eel and all seafood in general.
What’s your favourite thing to DRINK?
Mezcal and Margaritas.
What’s your favourite PLAY (things you do in your spare time)
Hanging in the garden growing things or chilling out near the ocean.
Finally, if I am planning one perfect meal at The Butler what should I be ordering?
Our banquet is basically a greatest hits compilation, an easy go-to. My favourite stand-alone dish right now is our Barramundi with grilled squash and pistachio mole and our charred corn, it’s pretty epic.
Take a look at The Butler’s menu here.
Take a look at the video from our Bottomless Long Lunch at The Butler here.
If you want to join in on the fun, you can buy tickets to our upcoming Secret Foodies events here.