You’re on the set of the new Wolverine movie right now, so you are in hard-core training mode. What have you eaten so far today?
Today I woke up and had just water, then I did cardio, had a protein shake, hit the weights, another protein shake. Actually, you caught me on a real treat day—just now, I had dry rye toast, three poached eggs and smoked salmon.
Will there be a celebratory meal or two in New York when training is done?
Oh yeah. I’ll be going to ABC Kitchen, Locanda Verde, Barbuto—Italian is always a great way to go off a diet. But what I really crave is the most basic stuff: Australian meat pies, breakfast cereal, hot dogs.
You’re close with chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. What are the best fringe benefits of that?
Getting invited to his country house. It’s like living in a Food & Wine photo shoot: There’s lobster, lamb, steak, fish, salad, all done just simply. Lunch at his house was one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life.
How did you learn to cook?
From my dad, who pretty much brought me up from the age of eight and got me cooking. I have lots of older siblings, and as they started to leave the house, I went from cooking once a week to twice, three times, and so on. After a while, it was just like making the bed.
What kind of cooking tips did your dad give you?
One of the greatest pieces of advice my father gave me: “If you’re ever looking to really impress someone, particularly a girl, flambéed crêpes suzette is a good way to go.”
Laughing Man, the Manhattan coffee shop you co-own, is known for its flat white.
In Australia, we like strong coffee. A flat white is the Australian version of a latte, but it’s shorter, smaller and creamier, and you actually have less milk. It feels like an indulgence, but it’s not. It’s my favorite drink—a flat white is the way to go.
Laughing Man comes from the experiences you had traveling in Ethiopia and hanging out with a coffee farmer. How did that journey change the way you look at food?
I got a firsthand look at how hard the farmers work, and how they exist on this knife edge between survival or not. I also got a sense of how vital coffee is to the community—they really revere it. When you sit down with a family in Ethiopia and have coffee, it’s like a communion. They take incredible care: You watch them roast it, grind it, cook it. And when they heat the water, they use gas, which is very valuable. It’s a luxury item for them, so every time I have a cup, I think of that.
What would you like your last meal to be?
I’d start with a negroni. I would have a full caviar service, probably with a little shot of vodka. Then I’d have my mum’s lasagna and some red wine, maybe Henschke’s Hill of Grace; and there will definitely be tiramisu for dessert. And coffee. I don’t care if it’s late at night. We’re doing it. A nice flat white.
And what do you think Wolverine’s favorite food is? Beef jerky?
[Laughing] I think you’re right, he must be a beef jerky–beer kind of guy. I’m guessing hamburgers, too. He’s a burger-and-beer bloke. I can’t imagine him sitting down with a caviar service.