Executive chef at Fat Rupert's and Rupert and Ruby, Eli Challenger is certainly one busy man. Starting out as a kitchen hand when he was still a teenager, Challenger moved onwards and upwards to some of Sydney's best restaurants. He now finds himself cooking up a North-American-meets-modern-Australian storm and needless to say, we're fans.
We managed to wrangle two minutes with the busy chef to find out how he got into cooking, where he loves to eat and drink in Sydney and what exactly it is about BBQ that gets him going.
TUL: So, how did you get into cooking?
Eli Challenger: I was 15 when I started and I am now 27, I've never left the kitchen. It's all I've ever done and I love it.
TUL: How did Fat Rupert's get started?
Eli Challenger: Aaron was in media, he left his job to fulfill his dream of opening up his own restaurant. I used to work at the restaurant he took over, I was working at Porteno at the time and Aaron got in touch and offered me the role of Executive Chef and I couldn't refuse.
TUL: Why did you decide to open Rupert and Ruby?
Eli Challenger: We were one of the top four teams in the Season One crowd-funding campaigns for IconPark. We had learnt so much from working with them for all those months that when they approached us about taking residency here for Season Two it was a no brainer, we had to do it.
TUL: We know BBQ is a huge passion of yours. What is it about BBQ that appeals to you?
Eli Challenger: It combines all the best things about cooking for me. It is all about slow cooking and the sense of community and coming together over food is a really big thing for me. There is fire, knives, and rock'n'roll. And it just tastes really good.
TUL: What are a few of your favourite Sydney restaurants?
TUL: And bars?
TUL: And say you've had one too many at those bars, what is your go-to hangover meal?
Eli Challenger: Definitely the fried chicken and waffles with a Bloody Mary at Rupert & Ruby. That's why I put it on the menu.
TUL: If you could choose, what would your last meal be?
Eli Challenger: A bottle of Wild Turkey Rye and a Montreal smoked meat sandwich from Siegel's Bakery (Vancouver).
TUL: Describe your ideal day off.
Eli Challenger: Skating at Waterloo Park and an afternoon nap on the couch.
TUL: And finally… What's next for you guys?
Eli Challenger: I'll be taking some time off over Christmas and then we'll see. Follow our Instagram at @rupertandruby and we'll keep you posted.