23 June 2023

Five minutes with Andrew Buik, The Oakroom Kitchen & Bar

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Andrew Buik, the owner of The Oakroom Kitchen and Bar

Andrew Buik, the owner of The Oakroom Kitchen and Bar. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Who is Andrew Buik: That’s a tricky question to answer. I’m a hospitality professional and I have been in the industry all my life in a few different roles. I was born in Victoria, went to school in Wagga and moved away a few times. I used to work at the Revolving Restaurant at the Telstra Tower in Canberra, then travelled overseas and lived and worked in the UK for a while before moving back to Wagga where I was the general manager at the Pavillion Hotel for a number of years.

I then moved to Port Macquarie to take on a management role at a hotel and try the beach lifestyle. But with the onset of a couple of little children and not enjoying Port Macquarie as much as we thought we would, we took the opportunity to move back to Wagga and took the position at the Townhouse. The Townhouse Hotel had completed some renovations and I was employed as the general manager for the hotel and restaurant for about two months before we launched The Oakroom on 30 July 2012.

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Best recent dining experience: Hochi Mama in Melbourne has modern Australian Asian food with lots of funky recipes and fancy cocktails.

Favourite cuisine: Italian, but my tastes are evolving and I’m certainly enjoying more Asian flavours these days.

What ingredient can I not live without: My children can’t live without tomato sauce, if that’s an answer. Personally, salt and pepper. Seasoning is important.

Most embarrassing pantry item: I’ll say Nutella.

The Oakroom

Bao buns with fried prawn, yuzu mayo, sesame and nori. Photo: The Oakroom Kitchen & Bar.

How many Weet-Bix do I do: Three.

Best coffee spot in Wagga: Funnily enough, I don’t actually drink coffee. I cannot answer that one. It is unfair for me to say we’re the best coffee spot. We’re not really a coffee destination. I think Trail Street Cafe has stood the test of time. They’ve been around forever and I never hear anything but good reports.

What’s your coffee blend: Premium Coffee Roasters Southern Italian blend.

Desserts are a must at The Oakroom

Desserts are a must at The Oakroom. Photo: The Oakroom Kitchen & Bar.

What’s the weirdest coffee order you’ve received: To be fair, nothing’s really weird these days. We have to embrace the fact people are very specific with their tastes. We’re trying to keep up with the constant changing in consumer tastes.

Next big thing in the Wagga food scene: I’d like to see Wagga embrace more Asian-style modern Australian fusion cooking. At the moment, we are more pub and takeaway heavy.

Favourite place to lunch in Wagga: G-Thai. It’s convenient, always tasty and quick and easy. It’s just around the corner from work and it is heavily populated by our crew here.

A must-try on our menu: At the moment, we’re doing lots of different things with Junee Gold lamb. Our slow-roasted lamb shoulder or lamb shanks are always delicious.

The Oakroom

The Oakroom was opened in July 2012. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Most used ingredient at The Oakroom: Lamb and steak.

Our top pick from our desserts: Our newly qualified chef Zoe came up with a chocolate dessert called ‘All About Chocolate’. It’s a chocolate combination for this time of the year. It’s very popular and it’s a creation that’s been enjoyed by our customers and staff alike.

My biggest culinary influence: Theo Moulis was a Canberra restaurant entrepreneur that owned the Revolving Restaurant. He was very progressive and certainly taught me a lot about food and restaurants.

A cheeseboard

A cheeseboard with house-made crackers and fresh fruits. Photo: The Oakroom Kitchen & Bar.

Favourite cookbook: Anything by Stephanie Alexander and Jamie Oliver.

Who I admire in the Wagga food and wine scene: Robert and Tammy from Thaigaa. They’ve created something from nothing.

What are this week’s specials at The Oakroom: We have daily specials. We cycle through the different risottos. We pride ourselves on the consistency of our risottos and the ability to use lots of different flavours throughout them. There’s always a tasty risotto on our specials.

The Oakroom is serving Junee Gold lamb

The Oakroom is serving Junee Gold lamb. Photo: The Oakroom Kitchen & Bar.

Death row meal: Steak, chips and mushroom sauce with Canadian Club and Coke.

Where am I travelling to next: Don’t have plans, to be honest.

Dream destination: Next family plan is to get to UK and Europe. I’m looking forward to taking my wife to Paris at some stage.

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My biggest fear: You wish for the best environment for your children to grow up in and be able to afford the lifestyle that they’re happy with. I have the fear that won’t be achieved and I am fearful of an unhappy future.

My least favourite food: I cannot stand green beans.

My top three cooking tips: Use the best produce, remember to season and don’t be afraid to experiment.

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