Life is about to change for Luke Stewart and Matt Gawthrop. The pair made their debut on MKR on Monday night and cook their first meal on the show next week.
Matt has captained the University of Newcastle’s Sea Dragons and Luke is a batsman and wicket keeper who plays for the Maitland area Northern Suburbs’ first-grade side. Both men have played representative cricket in their time.
If you’re not familiar with the prime-time cooking show, teams of two cook a three-course meal for judges Manu Feildel and Pete Evans, as well as the other teams they are competing against. The feedback can be critical and, at times, downright bitchy from the competition.
Matt says although he is the captain of the cricket team, it’s Luke who is in charge when it comes to the kitchen.
“We’re here to prove that your everyday, down-to-earth Aussie blokes can cook some absolutely amazing food,” Luke said. “It means so much to be doing this with my mate. We love cooking together.”
Off the field, married father-of-one Luke is a primary school teacher, while Matt is a youth worker.
“Anything that we’ve ever done in our lives we’ve been really competitive at, whether it be on the cricket field or now in the kitchen,” said Matt. “We hate losing and we have a real competitive edge that will benefit us in this competition.”
And their team philosophy? Simple food that is delicious: “If it looks good and tastes good, then it is good.”
Matt’s signature dish is Scotch fillet with creamy mash and vegetables. Luke’s is pappardelle or fettuccine with beef ragu. The 10th anniversary season of MKR is on Sunday to Wednesday, 7pm, on 7plus.
Fun and games
Food & Wine popped in to Dullboy’s Social Co on Hillsborough Road, Warners Bay, on the weekend. It’s a clever concept, incorporating the existing SuperStrike into a one-stop-fun-shop with a diner, bar, kiosk and a huge games room complete with dodgem cars and mini-golf. A tip: if you have a party to plan, book sooner rather later. And that applies to big and little kids alike.
Nose to tail seafood
Chef Josh Niland, who grew up in East Maitland, has been busy writing his first cookbook. It is called The Whole Fish Cookbook: New ways to cook, eat and think and it will be released in September through Hardie Grant Publishing. Niland really is the chef to watch in Sydney right now. What he is doing at his Paddington seafood restaurant, Saint Peter, is simply extraordinary. Never has nose-to-tail cooking looked so artistic – or tasty. And his most recent venture, Fish Butchery, is another game-changer.
“My first moment setting foot in a commercial kitchen was doing work experience at Sir Stamford Hotel in Newcastle on Honeysuckle Drive. I can remember how much my legs hurt after the first two days,” he told the Newcastle Herald in 2017.
One for the lovers
The Croatian Wickham Sports Club has come up with a darn good idea for Valentine’s Day tomorrow. It’s called LovesTruck and it’s on from 6pm to 9pm. Bring a rug and enjoy live jazz from Soda and food from a selection of Newcastle's best food trucks – Big Al’s Sandwich House, El Poco Loco, Bao Brothers Eatery and CHOUX Patisserie will all be there. An impressive line-up indeed. LovesTruck is a free all-ages event – children are welcome – and there’s no BYO.
Rascal is keeping the burger world interesting with its inventive combinations – and names. This week’s beauty is the Kiev n Bacon Burger: that’s chicken kiev with garlic butter, bacon ranch sauce, iceburg lettuce, bacon, pickles and onions. It costs $17 and it is available until Sunday evening.
If you’ve left buying a Valentine’s Day gift until the last minute, you could head to the Maker Store at 603 Glebe Road, Adamstown, 5pm to 10pm tonight to browse the Maker Valentines Market. Covered in Crumbs will be there, and that alone is a good reason to stop by.
Friday wine tastings
Cellarbrations is tucked away in a Valentine business complex but what a gem of a shop it is. It stocks Hunter Belle products, to start with, and has gifts like alcohol hampers. Owners Tony and Sandy are bringing back Friday wine tastings on February 15, 4pm to 7pm. First up is James Estate Wines.
Hear them roar
A wine made by four of Australia’s top female winemakers will go on sale this month to raise funds for scholarships, mentoring programs and professional development for women in the Australian wine industry. Called Hear Me Roar, in a deliberate reference to the 1971 Helen Reddy song, the wine is a 2018 shiraz from parcels from the Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Eden Valley and McLaren Vale regions of South Australia. It was crafted last October at the Irvine winery in the Eden Valley by Sue Hodder of Wynn’s Coonawarra Estate, Emma Norbiato of Calabria Family Wines, Rebekah Richardson of Irvine Wines and Corrina Wright of Oliver’s Taranga at McLaren Vale. The scheme was initiated by the Australian Women in Wine Awards (ASWIW) which were launched in 2015 to champion greater female participation in the wine industry.
The Hear Me Roar wine will go on sale online at WomenInWineAwards.com.au/hear-me-roar on February 21.
Fine dining rewards
Pokolbin’s EXP.restaurant came in at 75th in Gault & Millau’s 2019 Top 100 Australian Restaurants this week. Well deserved, Frank Fawkner and team. Muse was placed 18th and Subo, 95th.
Freebie: Whole, plant-based recipes
Whole contains more than 100 plant-based wholefood recipes for friends and family. Author Harriet Birrell’s philosophy is all about celebrating and enjoying the abundance of wholefood available and preparing it in a way that is easy and tasty. Refined white sugar is replaced with whole vitamin and mineral-rich ingredients such as mejdool dates, banana and maple syrup. Refined flours are replaced with minimally processed whole grains. Only a few recipes contain gluten and these are accompanied by gluten-free alternatives in the notes.
Whole is out now through Hardie Grant Books, RRP $50. Food & Wine has a copy to give away. To enter, send the word “Whole” with your name, address and number to email@example.com. Entries close on Monday, February 18, at 9am.