Legends of the Speakeasy Group – Andy Caldwell

We sat down with down with Andy Caldwell, the Venue Manager of Mjølner Sydney over a whisky poured from Mjølner itself to discuss hospitality and his role at The Speakeasy Group.

Tell us a bit about your hospitality journey and what you love about the industry?

My grandfather started in the Hospitality industry in 1930’s Belfast when he was just 8 years old, working in bars as a bus boy saving up money to buy his first bar in Belfast at the age of 16 in 1938. It’s something my father continued in the vein of the culinary world rather than Pubs and Bars and rose to be quite the recognised and respected chef in the Irish Hospitality scene in the 1970s and 1980s. You could say Hospitality runs in my blood.

I love hospitality not only because it was what allowed a poor catholic family to pull themselves out of poverty and rise to a level where they sent not one but two children to Harvard University and Cambridge University, but because it is one of the few industries where the connection with people is still maintained and strong, it is an industry where it is all about people. And I love that. You really get out of hospitality what you are willing to put in.

Throughout my career I have worked in Cocktail Bars built in churches, comedy clubs, leading London cocktail bars, Michelin Guide Restaurants, and even your local pub, dedicated to understanding and developing my skills in many different areas to refine my knowledge, experience, and capabilities as much as I can.

What is a day in the life in your role look like as Venue Manager of Mjølner Sydney?

My day to day is mostly consumed with ensuring that the experience we have dedicated ourselves to delivering is executed to the highest level. Interacting with customers, kitchen, and staff alike to ensure that all cylinders are firing. But also, in the background whenever I have the time, constantly investigating and developing ways of growing the brand.

What do you love most about your role as Venue Manager and working at Mjølner?

My team more than anything. Since beginning I have grown the team around me to a great place where we are really a close-knit family of lads and ladies who have all come to really thoroughly enjoy what they do, and working with each other. Which makes me very proud to say the least, seeing fully what they are all capable of once they are given the space and the time to do so.

Favourite dish on the Mjølner menu?

My favourite dish at Mjølner would have to be the Sydney Rock Oysters, basic I know but the sunrise lime vinaigrette that our fantastic kitchen put together for it is nothing short of stunning, and who doesn’t love an oyster?

Second would have to be the Grilled Whole Snapper, with snow pea sprouts, charred garlic shoots, and a fantastic lemon-based sauce that is generously drizzled over the top. It is absolutely to die for..

Where would we find you on a day off?

Most likely at the beach or at the gym, swimming in the water or working out just seems to do wonders for my ability to really relax. That or sat on my couch playing a video game like most nerds my age.

Legends of The Speakeasy Group – James Green

We sat down with James Green over a Negroni for a catch up.

James Green is the passionate and talented Head Chef of The Sanderson and Eau-de-Vie Sydney.

Tell us a bit about your hospitality journey and what you love about the industry?

I’ve been in the industry now in some capacity for over 20 years, starting in the family business at 15, before taking a more permanent role in the industry when I was 20. From there, I worked in some great restaurants in Sydney and overseas, ranging from Otto in Woolloomooloo, to Momofuku in Toronto and WD-50 in NYC. Upon returning home I had a stint at Icebergs in Bondi, before embarking on more senior roles around Sydney, as Executive Chef at Q Station in Manly, Head Chef at North Bondi Fish and Executive Chef at Manta before joining the Speakeasy Group prior to the opening of The Sanderson and Eau de Vie 2.0.

I think what I love most about the industry is the outlet for creativity, I find it very satisfying. The other thing I love is the close sense of community within hospitality, everyone looks after one another, supports each other’s venues, particularly in Sydney. It’s very close knit.

What is a day in the life in your role look like as The Head Chef of The Sanderson and Eau-de-Vie Sydney?

It varies from day to day, from the more routine duties of checking in on the produce, ordering and training staff, to the more creative and exciting side of developing new dishes, exploring new products, and working with our res & events teams developing some bespoke experiences for guests. I also spend a good amount of time developing relationships with some terrific producers and suppliers around the country, which flows through onto the menu.

What do you love most about your role as Head Chef?

I love that it provides me the perfect outlet for creativity, where I can take a dish from ingredient, to idea, and then through trial and error, to the finished product. Working with great products is also key in that process, we are super producer focused at The Sanderson in particular, and working with some of the best ingredients the country has to offer is incredibly inspiring.

I also find it really satisfying to see the chefs on our team learn and grow as we mentor them.

Favourite dish on The Sanderson menu?

Probably the dry aged Wollemi duck with whisky mustard glaze. I love duck, and this one is right up there.

Where would we find you on a day off?

I generally try and switch off, so you’ll usually find me on the golf course, watching a movie with my partner, or heading out for a nice dinner somewhere.

20 Best Melbourne Cocktail Bars

In Melbourne, the bar scene is as much about innovation as it is about tradition. Here, bars are more like creative labs, where the craft of cocktail-making is constantly refined. Seasonal ingredients and bold experimentation shape the menus, meaning even the classics are often given a fresh and bold twist. Featuring Boilermaker House, Eau-de-Vie and Nick & Nora’s.

Read More

Celebrating Women in Hospitality | Networking Panel Discussion | IWD

Join us as we unpack IWD 2024 and what it means, specifically, for women in the Hospitality Industry. The Speakeasy Group are so excited to be hosting two events celebrating all that it is to be a woman in the industry we that love.

Hosted by the ever dynamic, industry powerhouse, Hilary McNevin, along with a line-up of inspirational panellists from a broad cross section of our fine industry, kick-ass women & allies alike. Lend your voice to the Q&A as we pave the way for a more inclusive and empowered future.

Engage with like-minded professionals with some space to connect over some delicious drinks & nibbles (after all, it’s what we do)!

Get Tickets