The stunning blue waters of Port Stephens turn it on for the cameras more times than not.
Sadly, for MasterChef winner Andy Allen, Thursday wasn’t one those days. And he desperately wanted it to be.
The Maitland boy, who took reality television by storm in 2012, spent a lot of time in Fingal Bay and out on the water, growing up.
Thursday was meant to recapture that boyhood wonder and the area’s natural beauty for his latest project Andy and Ben Eat Australia. It’s a follow-up with his dude food companion Ben Milbourne, who he met on MasterChef.
“I really want the place to look fantastic,” Andy said.
“It would be a real shame if people couldn’t see Port Stephens in full swing.”
What he’d planned was to jump on the family boat, grab a feed of fish and head out to Broughton Island for the night. A decent swell and cutting winds were not part of the recipe.
The small crew arrived Wednesday afternoon and called in to see Andy’s parents, Peter and Maree, in their recently renovated Fingal Bay abode. It’s been their full time residence since they sold the family home at Ashtonfield.
Andy said it’s a bit of an entertainer’s paradise. And the folks we’re excited to see them.
“They kinda wanted the whole crew to stay the night but we’ve racked up some big kilometres and the crew wanted some quiet time,” he said.
They instead stayed at The Anchorage in a waterfront room, no less.
There was a sense of relief, almost, that production would have to be rescheduled.
“It’s the first break we’ve really had,” Andy said.
“We did something like 1500 kilometres through South Australia and we’ve just driven up from Rylestone.”
Perched comfortably in a cane chair, wearing nothing but black, he looked out over the marina. Then he explained why he wanted Port Stephens to sing for the cameras.
Sure, Destination NSW had sponsored this leg of the trip, but his motivation was clear. Albeit in his trademark casual way.
“Through that MasterChef journey I realised, with the other contestants, how big a role their parents played in their food journey,” he said.
“In fairness to mum and dad they weren’t the biggest foodies.
“I didn’t realise what my food journey was at first. But the Bay, and coming up here with them, really shaped my love of food, and the land but especially the ocean.”
Andy wanted to spend another night, maybe see if conditions improved, but he had an appointment to make in Byron Bay on Friday. He’s a part-owner in Three Blue Ducks, one of them located there on the far north coast.
“We’ve got some time in November so hopefully the weather’s kinder then,” Andy said.
“Our priority is to make sure [Port Stephens] looks great.”
Andy and Ben East Australia will be released in 2017.