MasterChef Australia judges named
Former Ashtonfield resident and 2012 MasterChef Australia champion Andy Allen has been confirmed as a judge in the 2020 series of the television cooking competition. The former apprentice electrician will join Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo in replacing long-time MasterChef Australia judges Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris, who collectively quit at the conclusion of the 2019 series. Allen had this to say: "This is really humbling and has come full circle for me. To win the show back in 2012, then to throw myself into the big world of hospitality, be recognised by the industry and accepted by chefs I admired, to now take on a role as judge of Australia's best cooking show is just one of the coolest things ever. So pumped!"
Chicken at The Cambridge
Chicken Cartel is now open at The Cambridge in Newcastle. Trading hours are Wednesday, 5pm to 8.30pm; Thursday, 11.30am to 8.30pm; Friday, 11.30am to 8.30pm; and Saturday, 11.30am to 8.30pm. It's from the team behind Newy Burger Co.
Vego's Vegetarian Fast Food has opened at the corner of Beaumont Street and Maitland Road, Islington. It's open 8am to 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 8am to 3pm other days.
Top service rewarded
The 2019 Local Business Awards - Hunter award winners have been announced ... Best Bakery/Cake Shop: Euro Patisserie, New Lambton; Butcher: Adam's Family Meats, New Lambton; Cafe: Table 1 Espresso, Merewether; Fast Food/Takeaway: Burgerfiend, Cessnock; New Business: The Kingfish, Honeysuckle; Restaurant: Restaurant Mason, Newcastle; Specialised Business: The Local Yolk, Cooranbong.
Feast for the Senses
Lake Macquarie City Council is on to a good thing with Feast for the Senses, the opening event for the two-day annual Living Smart Festival.
Diners sat along two long tables at Speers Point Park late last month for the modern Indian-inspired three-course meal created by Warners Bay's Stephanie de Sousa, of MasterChef Australia fame. In keeping with the festival's sustainability theme, she served a simple plant-based menu with a focus on flavour. The onion bhajis, cauliflower wings and eggplant pickle deserve a special mention. The menu was designed to be shared over conversation and the formula worked. Strangers from all over the Hunter Region and beyond became acquainted and stories and laughs - as well as the delicious dishes - were shared.
Speaking of plant-based meals, Future Farm Co is now distributing a new range of plant-based products to selected Coles, Woolworths and IGA supermarkets. Beyond Meat has introduced a new and meatier Beyond Burger; Sophies Kitchen has plant-based fish fillets, crab cakes, tuna, bacon, chicken and prawns; and NEXT! is offering extra crispy bacon style strips and chicken chunks.
Also, plant-based meat start-up v2food has launched, a partnership between CSIRO scientists and Competitive Foods Australia. v2food was formed in 2018 by CSIRO's Innovation Fund as part of the federal government's National Innovation and Science Agenda, with former Masterfoods and PepsiCo Research director Nick Hazell appointed chief executive.
"Making meat alternatives from plants is not a new idea, but at v2food, we've taken it a step further," Hazell said. "We are on a journey to make plant-based food both taste better and be more sustainable. Made from legumes, the company's mince looks and tastes like quality meat and contains added fibre and nutrients."
v2food has been collaborating with the grain and meat industries to add plant-based meat to the Australian agricultural industry.
"This is an exciting opportunity for Australian grain farmers to be at the forefront of this growing market, which will help them grow and create new jobs," minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said. "This isn't about taking a share of the existing meat market; this is an additional opportunity to create a new market that could add $6 billion to our economy by 2030."
The newly-renovated Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery has a cafe that needs an operator for a six-month trial. The space has seating capacity for 50 diners, access to an outdoor timber deck terrace and can be hired for after-hours events. The gallery will provide all dining furniture and utilities and preference will be given to operators who are flexible and pre-prepare rather than cook onsite. Submissions close at 4pm on November 1.
The Grain Store is celebrating Oktoberfest this week (October 11 and 12) with imported Bavarian Fest Biers, German craft beers, a traditional bier hall menu and entertainment.
New chef at Legends
The Legends Grill at Chateau Elan Hunter Valley has a new executive chef: Greg Singian. He was most recently executive chef at Grand Millennium Auckland and has yet to put his stamp on the menu - he has only been at Legends for a week - but he has plans. Lots of them.
"I have a passion for barbecued food and low and slow cooking, even though my roots are in Asian cooking," the enthusiastic Singian told Food & Wine. "I like to mix it up. Fresh, clean, cuisine is what it's all about for me. I like to do everything from scratch and I'd like to work sustainably - maybe have a worm farm, beehives, a vegie patch. That's my goal but Rome wasn't built in a day."
Keen to start building his kitchen team and shake up the menu, Singian prepared some off-menu dishes which he said showed "what he was all about" - think seared tuna, abalone, kingfish belly, a fresh and crunchy Vietnamese salad as well as pork bao and slow-cooked brisket. The dining area overlooks a garden, established trees and the golf course, and has plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. This re-launch sounds exciting.
October is Spanish month at Pork Ewe Deli in Mayfield. There's a tapas tasting afternoon (October 12 at 3.30pm); a paella cooking class (October 17 at 6pm); an in-store tasting (October 19, 10.30am to 2.30pm); and a chorizo making class (October 26 at 3pm). For details and to book, go to porkewe.com.au.
Harrison Plant, winner of the 2017 First Creek Wines Front of House Scholarship, has been appointed restaurant manager at EXP. restaurant. He has just returned from Europe where he trained at the International Butlers Academy.
Check it out
Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant has moved to Shop 7/50 Glebe Road, The Junction.
According to social media, the new owner of 66 Degrees Cafe & Takeaway at 259 Darby Street is offering school children (wearing a school uniform) a free sandwich on their way to school. Good stuff.
Freebie of the week
Chef, restaurateur and former MasterChef Australia host George Calombaris has released Just George, a collection of recipes from the many culinary influences in his life. His father migrated to Australia from Egypt; his grandmother was Sicilian; his grandfather was Greek; his mum is from Cyprus - and Calombaris was born and raised in the suburbs of Melbourne. In addition to Greek recipes with a twist, like the slow-cooked lamb with chickpeas and tomato, there are favourites from his restaurants (ancient grain salad and gazi chips) and simple dishes he cooks at home. Food & Wine has a copy of Just George to give away. To enter, send the words "Just George" with your name, address and number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries close on Monday (14/10/19) at 9am.
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