5 Minutes With Viral Chef, Andy Cooks

By Natalie McGowan | 12th June 2024

If his name doesn’t ring a bell, his catchphrase surely will: “Hey Babe, what do you want for *insert meal time here*?” Andy Hearnden, perhaps better known by his social media handle, @andycooks, is a Kiwi Chef turned viral sensation teaching his 14.1 million followers on Youtube, TikTok, and Instagram how to become better home cooks from his Sunshine Coast studio. 

We caught up with the FoodTok legend to discuss his rapid rise to fame, share his top tips for home cooks, and get his opinion on where to find the best bites on the Sunny Coast.


Orange Chicken 🍊 Ingredients: – 1 kg (2.2 lbs) chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces – 1/2 tsp YUMYUM (MGS) – 1 tsp salt – 1 egg – oil for frying – 100g (3.5 oz) flour – 200g (7 oz) cornflour (cornstarch) – 4 cloves garlic, finely crushed – thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated – 2 spring onions, whites finely diced and greens finely sliced – zest and juice of 2 oranges – 1 tsp red chilli flakes – 100g (3.5 oz) brown sugar – 50ml (1.7 fl oz) light soy sauce – 30g (1 oz) cornflour, dissolved in 60ml (2 oz) water – rice, to serve Method: 1. In a bowl, combine the chicken pieces, egg, salt, and MSG. Mix well. 2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and cornflour. 3. Coat the chicken by adding about one-third of the flour mixture to the chicken bowl, ensuring each piece is well-covered. 4. Heat oil in a wok to 160°C (320°F). Fry the chicken pieces by coating in flour for a second time, then shaking any excess off then carefully placing them in the hot oil. Fry for 6-7 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the chicken and let it drain on a wire rack. Repeat until all chicken is cooked. 5. In a clean wok over high heat, add a small amount of oil and sauté the spring onion whites, ginger, and garlic until fragrant. Add the orange juice, orange zest, chilli flakes, brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and soy sauce. Mix well and bring to a light simmer. 6. Thicken the sauce by stirring in the cornflour mixture. Once the sauce has thickened, return the chicken to the wok, tossing it in the sauce to coat evenly. Just before serving, add the spring onion greens and toss again. 7. Serve the orange chicken alongside steamed white jasmine rice. #cooking #foodie #chicken


Tell me about yourself.

I’m a Kiwi chef who spent 20 years working in kitchens in different parts of the world. Now, I make cooking videos from my home kitchen and teach people as best I can about being better home cooks and how to create some great meals that bring people back to the table to be shared in good company.

How did you get your start in the industry?

I went to culinary school when I was 16 and started working in cafes in Auckland before moving to London when I was 21 to really kick off my career as a chef. I spent seven years working in some great restaurants in London, including the Great Eastern Dining Room, where I landed my first Head Chef role when I was 24.

What inspired you to start creating your own cooking videos?

I had some time during the pandemic to think about my goals and one of those was to work for myself. I have always consumed YouTube videos across a number of industries and hobbies, so I started to look at cooking videos a lot closer and how I could create a channel for myself and teach people – and myself – how to be better home cooks.

You’ve had a rapid rise to fame in the last few years. What has that experience been like for you?

It’s kind of similar to being a chef in a restaurant where people come up to you and say they love your food or your work, now it just happens a lot more frequently. I definitely have some really cool opportunities and people that come my way now, but for the most part, life still feels the same.

Can you share some cooking tips for the home cooks out there?

Prep is really important, especially for dishes that don’t take long to cook like fried rice. You don’t want to accidentally burn your oil while you’re still chopping up the veggies.

How do you approach creating new recipes?

I would say most of my recipes are inspired by another recipe or dish, and then I tweak and change things based on the way I like to cook or things I have learnt over my 20 years as a chef.

What do you think sets apart a great meal from an ordinary one?

Seasoning is important and so is having different flavour profiles and textures.

Proudest career moment?

My first cookbook came out almost a year ago now. It’s something I’m super proud of and it holds a lot of my favourite recipes in there. You can only purchase it online here.

As a Sunshine Coast local, can you share your favourite places to eat?

For fine dining:

I wouldn’t call them fine dining (and neither would Jade and Stacey) but I’d go to Humble on Duke for incredible food and a great experience.

For a special occasion:

Market Bistro is always good.

For a takeaway dinner:

Umami Ramen for takeaway or a delicious casual dinner.

For a long lunch:

Kin Kin Hotel because there’s nothing better than a country pub meal.

For a breakfast bite:

Rick’s on 6th for a pie and a sourdough loaf for home.

For dessert:

I don’t really head out for dessert but if I did, I’d probably hit up a local gelato shop.

By Natalie McGowan Office DJ and serial online shopper, Natalie’s idea of self care is watching reality TV and getting a spontaneous tattoo.




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