Scotty Finz is the epitome of balance. Co-owner of epic burger joint Milky Lane, and chef for vegan health food venue Flave, he lives the kind of lifestyle we admire at 4B. 

In this week’s dive into mental health, we chat with Scotty about living a balanced lifestyle, advice on plant-based diets and how food affects our mindset and overall mental wellbeing.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Flave, your love of cooking etc… 

I was born in New Zealand and started cooking at an early age with my grandpa, he was an amazing cook. My parents inspired me to travel at a young age as I would look through all the amazing travel photos from their adventures all over the world. I told my mum I wanted to do the same when I grew up. She said well, you need to get a job where you can travel. Why not become a chef? People always need to eat no matter what anywhere in the world!

I decided to leave school one year early to get into my chef Diploma. After completing my diploma, I left New Zealand to begin my travel journey and start my career as a chef. First stop was Bali to surf and learn about Indonesian food. I was there for 6 weeks then I moved to the Gold Coast for a year. Next stop was London where I worked for Gordon Ramsay. After working with Gordon, I needed some time off so I travelled Europe for 4 months in a van. 

Along my travels in Europe, I met an Aussie guy who had just started working for an agency that employed chefs to travel around the world & cook for musicians. My first gig was 4 weeks in Scotland cooking at the MTV music awards. Straight after I went on tour with Beyonce for 6 weeks around Europe. Next I took some time off to go surfing in Tahiti.

Then that became the ‘norm’ I would tour the world with legendary musicians, and in my down time travel to luxury surf locations.

I spent 7 years with Sir Paul McCartney (a pioneer of the Meatless Mondays Movement) as well as ‘flexitarians’ Rihanna, Beyonce, Madonna, Elton John, Kanye West and a bevy of other celebrities.

Cooking for Sir Paul McCartney, who ate a 100% plant-based diet, all over the world – often in locations where familiar ingredients weren’t available – I was challenged to get creative on a daily basis. It opened my eyes to an array of incredible herbs, spices, and ingredients and I fell in love with perfecting them using the fine-dining techniques I learnt with Gordon.

I moved to Bondi about 10 years ago after 3 years in Hollywood.

Myself and 3 good mates started a restaurant business called Milky Lane. We have built over 10 restaurants over the past 6 years and plan to open many more.

In the last 2 years I also started a new venture, a plant-based restaurant chain called Flave. Flave promotes environmentally sustainable and nutritional food options for the community, and I am proud to be part of it. We are opening the first restaurant on the 6th of December.

In light of Mental Health Month we are really trying to dive into how overall health and wellness can impact mental health. Can you explain how food can affect mental health? 

I think different types of food can really affect one’s mental health. When you’re feeling down you can sometimes crave unhealthy junk food. You may get an initial sugar high and fix that junk food craving. But with highs, there are the lows., like the sugar crash and the bloated feeling of eating fatty foods. This usually makes us feel worse, weighted down and can make us feel depressed. But when you eat healthy, lighter, plant-based foods you will actually feel way better! You feel less bloated, lighter on your feet and energetic. I highly recommend trying Flave when you can, it’s like a party in your mouth and everyone’s invited!

What are the other benefits people can receive from a plant-based diet? What advice would you give to someone who is trying to cut out meat from their diet? 

​​There are many benefits you can receive from a plant-based diet. Several studies have shown that sticking with a plant-based diet can reduce blood pressure, thereby reducing your risk for those conditions. Meat contains saturated fat, which can contribute to heart issues when eaten in excess. So, by cutting back on meat and loading up on plant-based foods, you’re doing your heart a favour!

Eating Flave is a great way to try and cut out meat and transition into eating a plant-based diet. A lot of the dishes I have created actually taste like meat! I’ve recreated the flavours, textures and colours of meat. You won’t even know you are eating plant-based and you won’t feel like you’re missing out

Self-care, fueling your body and looking after yourself all go hand-in-hand. How would you encourage people to cook for themselves & fuel their mind and body with the right foods. 

I would start by using seasonal organic foods. Look at your favourite type of cuisine to eat. Hopefully it’s already healthy, but if not look at how you can adapt the recipe. (E.g. if it’s deep-fried, swap out to oven baked.) Swap out butter for a good olive oil, and use less.

I always try to have some great healthy sauces, marinades, garlic oils and dressings ready to rock in my fridge. This way I can roast or steam some veg and easily bring it to life and infuse it with some epic flavours.

At 4B we love to preach a balanced lifestyle & diet. Can you tell us a bit more about how this relates to your personal life, and your businesses. (Milky Lane x Flave)

Life is definitely about balance. I go through stages, sometimes I go cold turkey and cut out everything and do a full health kick for 100 days, then other times I can totally do the opposite and go down the other road and rather than do “Sober October” I will do “Bender till December” haha just joking. But in all seriousness, I think the key is balance and moderation.

Having a few wines or beers with dinner or out with friends but knowing when to call it quits. Drinking glasses of water while out, not having crazy late nights, having a good sleep and being able to get up early and enjoy the next day.

What other activities do you like to participate in to boost your overall mood and mental health? 

I’ve been bodyboarding since I was 12. I grew up by the ocean in New Zealand. There’s  something about being in the ocean that is amazing for my mental health and mood. 

Training with my mates, either at Airlocker or in the streets of Bondi doing kettlebell circuit workouts till we fall over! “kettlebell mania” we call it. 

I also train at icebergs gym, jump in the pool, then sauna, then sometimes up to the bar for some epic food and a few cold beers.

I like to wake up early and go for a sunrise soft sand run followed by a dip in the ocean.

SWEET POTATO CHOC BROWNIE & COCONUT ICE CREAM

This recipe blows people’s minds when I tell them the main ingredient. It’s Flaves most rich-tasting recipe so far and tastes like it’s full of all the butter, sugar, flour and traditional things you would find in a brownie, but there’s nothing ‘traditional’ about it. Not even traditional flour. It’s a dessert that you can feel great about eating every day because it’s full of all the good stuff that’s going to give you an energy rush and not a crash. Calories don’t count when there’s vegetables in the dish.

I’m not much of a sweets guy – definitely lean more towards the savoury but I love this brownie for my 3pm pick-up with my coffee.

When I was on the road, I didn’t actually cook that many desserts or sweets. We had a pastry chef named Kitty who would make all the desserts when we were on tour with Paul McCartney. But we would often work side by side and swap recipes.

A friend of mine actually recommended I use sweet potato in a dessert recipe so that’s how I’ve come to create this one mostly.

When I serve people this dish, they can’t believe it has sweet potato in it – but it’s the way we cook the potato that makes it taste so good and nothing like sweet potato at all. We bake the potato whole in the oven on 180 for an hour and by cooking it this way, with the skin on, it makes the natural sugars caramelise underneath the skin and creates a genuine sweetness.

The trick to this dish is getting the best-quality chocolate. A friend of mine, Frank, is from Venezuela and he has this organic fair trade chocolate company and he ships the chocolate over to me here in Bondi. This chocolate is like nothing else – it’s so pure, it will literally power you up and give you energy. I mix it through the batter and then use it in the icing, too.

The sweet in the sweet potato comes from cooking it in the oven, whole and unpeeled until it caramelises under the skin. Then once it’s cooked I scoop out the insides and make a puree. Then I’ll mix it with pure cacao, coconut oil, maple syrup, pure vanilla essence, replacement vegan eggs, coconut flour – which is gluten free, baking powder and bi-carb and then I stir through chopped almonds and Franks Venezuelan chocolate. Then bang it in the oven and take it out at the right time so it still has that gooey but cooked centre. I make an icing with coconut cream, cacao & chocolate then sprinkle with hemp seeds.

Its epic served warm with some whipped vanilla coconut cream and plant based ice-cream

Follow Scotty & his businesses 

Scotty Finz @scottyfinz Flave @flaveworld Milky Lane @milkylaneofficial