"Slowly does it, don't rush things, and don't start drinking beer when you put the lamb on."
-Ryan Andrijich, Whack It On The Barbie
In this week's feature, we spoke to Ryan Andrijich from Whack It On The Barbie. A trained chef and food industry professional with over 20 years of experience to his name, he's worked with some of Australia's leading food identities including Will Studd, Kylie Kwong, Antonio Carluccio and Frank Camora. He now runs his own business in Melbourne, Whack It On The Barbie, which runs all things barbecue - from classes to selling barbecue-related products - and employs techniques of cooking with wood coal and smoke.
When it comes to his passion on food, his greatest influences are his family. From a half Croatian Vignerons and half Australian Farmers background, he grew up with sumptuous home-cooked meals, homemade bread, preserves and pickles.
And his biggest influence to date? Cooking with fire.
Read on to find out more about his views on unique experiences, most memorable moments, and firsthand advice on starting a business!
Hey Ryan! Can you share with us a bit about how Whack It On the Barbie first came about?
I have been involved in the food industry for over 20 years. During that time I have taught lots of different classes. Wood and charcoal fired BBQ cookery has always been a personal favourite pastime, and I think it is the best way to cook! In recent years we have seen a great increase in the interest of cooking this way, and our classes have grown from being occasional to having a permanent home and running every week at Queen Victoria Market.
What has been the most memorable part of your job for you?
I think the best part of my job is getting emails or tagged on social media from customers who have put in to practice the skills they learnt and having success at BBQ. It is also pretty satisfying when some of the old fruit and veg stall holders or the butchers come to visit and enjoy what I do! They are a hard bunch to win over in some ways, so their approval has been a highlight.
What are your thoughts on the demand of unique experiences like yours, especially for travellers who are looking to experience a country's culture in a different way?
It is really interesting to show people around the market and explain what is unique about Australian and Victorian produce and our methods of cookery. I have seen the demand grow each week and it seems people are seeking authentic personal experiences when they travel. We run small classes with most hosted by myself of chefs I have known for a long time. It gives people the feeling of meeting a local and being part of a unique experience.
The food we cook is all from the market, and we are subject to the seasons in the form of availability, weather and the types of dishes people want to eat. Being at the market makes it impossible to be anything other than local, and at such a busy place you will always see something new.
What advice would you give someone who is looking to start their own business?
Do your research. Understand your strengths and work to them, know our weaknesses and improve on them. Have a plan for growth. Know why you want to be in business and refer back to this if you are ever in doubt!
That's great advice, Ryan. Lastly, can you leave us with any quotes to live by?
Never measure olive oil or gin!
The two have kept the host and guests happy at many a BBQ gathering!