Chef Tom Skocic first heard the phrase "be like a duck" – calm on the surface, but madly paddling underneath – during a busy restaurant service.
"We were understaffed and booked out, and I was frantically trying to set up my station," says Skocic. "The head chef turned to me and said, 'Be the duck'."
He loved the phrase so much he used it to name his new Richmond cafe. Be The Duck is the first solo venture for Skocic after 18 years of working in hospitality, most notably at Matteo's and Hare & Grace.
The former sandwich bar's fresh fitout is lean, but there are hints to Skocic's higher-end background in dishes such as confit duck salad, twice-cooked pork belly, or his answer to smashed avo, the Nest, with soft-boiled and mousseline-glazed egg on a nest of shaved asparagus and pork floss, with grapefruit segments and avocado toast.
There's also a range of fresh juices, smoothies and teas, and Proud Mary Coffee.
In a few weeks, Skocic is launching a side project called My Food Plate, which will allow customers to build a meal from a list of proteins and sides and have it delivered to their work or home.
The proteins and sides, including kangaroo and smoked salmon, pickled kohlrabi and wakame, can also be ordered to dine in.
Open Mon-Fri 6am-4pm; Sat 7am-4pm; Sun 8am-4pm.
131 Burnley Street, Richmond, 03 9427 1760