Some of Newcastle's rising culinary stars are competing in the 2019 Nestlé Golden Chef's Hat Award regional finals at TAFE NSW Hamilton today.
Eight two-chef teams will each create a two-course menu, with the winning team from the NSW regional heats destined for the national final to cook-off in the public arena at Fine Food Australia in Sydney this September.
"This award is about pushing yourself to be a better chef. It offers young talent the opportunity, often for the first-time, to put their skills to the test, get creative and really find out where they are as a chef so they can accelerate their culinary journey," Nestlé Professional executive chef Mark Clayton said.
The teams are: Rigel Bennett and Chloe Henshaw; Shernece Sams and Samantha Sim; Casey Parsons and Thomas Wesche; Jessie Fitzpatrick and Dakota Heiken; Tristan Chalker and Candice-Shay Taylor; Lucinda Delpiero and Jakeal Hector; Brodie O'Brien and Daniel Peel; and Jayden Dann and Hayden Gillis.
The national winners will be awarded a culinary trip of a lifetime to North America.
Deb Cook, formerly of The Spot in Hamilton and Honeysuckle's One Picket Fence Cafe, has opened a cafe at the Grainery Church in Mayfield. River Cafe at The Grainery, as it is known, had a "soft" opening two weeks ago and officially launches next Monday, July 17.
"I've run plenty of cafes but it's very unique, what we have here," Cook told Food & Wine. "The cafe is open to the public but operates under the church which means overheads aren't a hassle and we are able to serve quality food at about half the price of the average cafe."
The blackboard menu is simple but tasty and changes weekly.
River Cafe at The Grainery is open Sunday to Friday, 7am to 2pm, at 11 Murray Dwyer Circuit. All are welcome to attend the cafe's grand opening on July 17. Complimentary coffee or tea will be served with any food purchase next week; the offer is valid from 9am to 1pm.
Dungog apprentice baker and TAFE NSW Hamilton student Tristan Beisler was pipped at the post by one point at the 2019 National Excellence in Baking Awards in Melbourne last week. He was runner up in the National Apprentice Baker category and plans to enter the 2020 National Excellence in Baking Awards.
Fellow student Zachary Trigg, of Adamstown's Pekarna bakery, also put up a good fight in the National Apprentice Pastry Cook category. The Mount Hutton resident is moving to Belgium next year to train at the internationally renowned Callebaut Chocolate Academy.
MEET moves to Darby Street
Honeysuckle's MEET - now known simply as M - has moved to its new home at 9 Darby Street, Newcastle. There are two entrances to the trendy warehouse and its New York-style bar and restaurant - one on Darby Street and one on King Street. Head chefs Nick Writer and Rafael Tonan are combining fire-grilled cuisine with a seasonal shared degustation menu. It is open from 5pm, Monday to Thursday, and from noon, Friday to Sunday.
Hunter Street mall tiki bar Blue Kahunas is kicking off Tiki Tuesdays with steel guitar trio The High Andies. They will perform Hawaiian jazz from 8pm to 10pm weekly.
Snow in The Rocks
The Rocks will resemble a French-style Christmas village from July 11 to 14. This year, organisers have doubled the number of authentic wooden chalets imported from Europe - there will be 25 - and have arranged snowfall machines, Christmas pines, fairy lighting, a gingerbread house, Christmas carolers and authentic French winter food. There will also be an Alpine ski village with a mini ice-skating rink and a Christmas market.
Perfect eggs, according to Manu
Celebrity chef and My Kitchen Rules judge Manu Feildel reckons he has the secret to making perfect poached, baked or boiled eggs at home. The Australian Eggs ambassador shared the following tips.
Cooking poached eggs
Older eggs will have whites that are quite runny, which means they won't hold together as well in the water. Test an egg for freshness by gently placing into a bowl of water. If it lies on its side it is quite fresh; if it stands on end it is less fresh; and if it floats, it is stale or most likely bad.
Always crack your egg into a small bowl before tipping it gently into the water, as this will help it keep its shape in the water.
Add a little vinegar to your water, this will help the white to firm up and hold together in a nice round shape. Also, have the water at a gentle simmer to cook through with light bubbles,
Cooking boiled eggs
Add your eggs is one at a time, using a pasta spoon or slotted spoon. If the water is too bubbly the eggs will bounce around causing the shell to crack. Gently add your eggs to warm water, place over a medium heat to bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer until they are cooked.
If your eggs aren't super fresh and you want to have your yolks in the centre when cooked, gently swirl them in the pot of water for a minute or two.
To prevent that dark grey ring on the yolk of your boiled eggs, remove the eggs from the boiling water once cooked, plunge immediately into very cold water and lightly crack each shell a little on one side.
To ensure your shell comes off cleanly, cool your eggs in cold water; this will cause the whites to slightly contract and pull away from the white skin between the egg white and the shell.
Freebie of the week
The Slow Cooking Guide is a beautifully presented cookbook with recipes that will guide you through the process of slow-cooking mouth-watering meals your family and friends will love.
From soups to stews, classic favourites, roasts, braises and casseroles, international dishes and desserts, slow cooking is the easy way to create stunning meals with minimal effort.
The Slow Cooking Guide is out now through New Holland Publishers, RRP $24.99. It is available from all good book retailers or online at newhollandpublishers.com.
Food & Wine has a copy to give away. To enter, send the words "The Slow Cooking Guide" with your name, address and number to email@example.com. Entries close on Monday at 9am.