Apprentice chef David Gleadhill has cooked his way to The Ledbury in London.
The Muse Restaurant employee won this year's Brett Graham Scholarship, offered annually by TAFE NSW and the Hunter Culinary Association.
The $10,000 scholarship gives Gleadhill the opportunity to work alongside Michelin-starred chef Brett Graham at his restaurant The Ledbury in Notting Hill, which is in the World's Top 100 Best Restaurants list. Now in its 17th year, the scholarship is named after the Novocastrian, who is one of TAFE NSW's most successful alumni.
The three finalists - Gleadhill, Matthew Mirosevich from Quay Restaurant and Ryan Jones from Bistro Molines - created, prepared and cooked a menu based on ingredients selected by Graham while also managing and directing a kitchen support team of apprentices.
TAFE NSW Commercial Cookery teacher and head judge Tracey Amos said the dishes produced by all entrants were of an "exceptionally high standard".
"Each of our finalists really understood just how vital it is to use quality produce and play with flavour to create subtle and memorable combinations in their dishes. Our panel of judges was fantastic and while the standard of all entrants was high, we all agreed that David was the deserving winner."
Other hospitality "hot shots" were also recognised.
Patrick Hester, of Yellow Billy Restaurant, won the $5000 First Creek Wines Front of House Scholarship. Alexandra Clarke from Muse Restaurant came a close second, winning a wine training course through the Get Wine Smart WSET program.
The Hunter Culinary Association Rising Star Award was presented to Hannah McDowell, of Margan Restaurant, who was offered a fully-funded Diploma of Hospitality Management from TAFE NSW.
The new guard
COQUUN on the banks of the Hunter River at Maitland is hosting its first wine event on December 1. It's called "COQUUN presents the new guard - Tinkler | Becker | Vinden" and tickets cost $120 per person, which includes sparkling wine and canapés followed by a four-course, wine-matched lunch with some of the Hunter Valley's most innovative winemakers. Be quick - seats are limited.
Read more:Restaurant review: COQUUN
New Italian menu
A new chapter begins at Merewether Surfhouse restaurant on December 2. It's "turning Italian", a spokesperson told Food & Wine, and will be open seven days for lunch and dinner. Also, the talented Lesley Taylor will stay on as head chef.
Slice of Detroit
Valerie's Pizza Parlour opens this Friday, November 8, at 87-89 Hunter Street, Newcastle.
Meal With Mates
Industria Eats & Supplements at Mount Hutton recently partnered with Windale BaptistCare to teach homeless and disadvantaged men how to cook healthy nutritional meals. Participants were also taught how to buy fresh food on a budget and how to cook with minimal equipment.
Each class ended with a meal and a chat around a table, hence the name of the eight-week course: A Meal With Mates. What a great idea.
Get to Darby Street
Laneway On Darby cafe is doing its bit to lure people back to Newcastle's Darby Street.
"We are running a competition to win a weekend for two people on a private island in Queensland," Laneway On Darby's Megan Sullivan said.
"We are doing this to try to attract new business not only to our cafe but to Darby Street itself which has been very quiet, as reported in the Herald recently. Further information can be found on our website."
What are you waiting for?
Earp Distilling Co. is well on track to opening its interactive distillery in Carrington later this year, which will feature an onsite "tasting bar". If you're interested, they are looking to hire experienced bar staff now - you can apply on their website.
The distillery will host tours and "spirit classes" and have a store.
On their website they say their goal is "to be one of the most sustainable independent distilleries in Australia". Watch this space.
FogHorn Brewhouse is introducing Smokin' Summer Sundays, every Sunday from 11.30am to 5pm. The menu will feature specials straight from the smoker, including vegetarian options, and $5 schooners of Summer Ale. Book your seat by phoning 4929 4721.
Farm to fridge
Don't forget, if you are looking for fruit and vegetables fresh from the farm, Your Food Collective now offers home delivery in addition to weekly pick-ups from its hub locations. There's the Tighes Hill Hub (Unit 6/6 Revelation Close, 2pm to 6pm Wednesdays); the Redhead Hub (Redhead Bowling Club, 43 Burns Street, 3.15pm to 5.15pm Wednesdays); and the Warners Bay Hub (Food and Friendship, 66 Queen Street, 3pm to 5.30pm Wednesdays). Hubs are opening at Kotara, Charlestown and Maitland soon.
The first Smokin' Hot Kotara Steak Cookoff is being held at Kotara Home on Kullaiba Road on November 30, 10am to 5pm. The good folk from Smokin' Hot 'N' Saucy are making the trip from Islington for the occasion, serving smoked delights and staging barbecue cooking demonstrations as shoppers enjoy a centre-wide sale.
Save the date
The Aussie Night Markets are at Dixon Park Beach this Friday and Saturday, 4pm to 10pm, with loads of food trucks and stalls, a bar, dessert section, entertainment, markets and rides.
Happy Hour at The Williams Bar
You can now enjoy Happy Hour at The Williams Bar at Longworth House. It's on 5pm to 7pm, Wednesday to Friday, featuring $5 house wines, a $10 cocktail of the week and $10 tapas. It's a good excuse to meet Longworth House's latest custodian Sonya Scott, who knows her Hunter Valley wines and is keen to share her knowledge from behind the bar. More about The Williams Bar and Sonya in Wednesday's Newcastle Herald.
Village vibe at Teralba
Food & Wine stopped off at Flying Spanners Gallery in Teralba village a couple of weeks' back and was pleasantly surprised. The tiny space is quirky and cute, and we enjoyed a simple but tasty brunch in the delightful side courtyard. It's open Wednesday to Sunday. Across the road is The Makers Place, a great place to browse.
New and eclectic cafe
The Shake n Bean Cafe is now open at Swansea. It's an eclectic space with booth seating and tables and a retro garage vibe. The kids will love climbing on the indoor plane and Jet-Ski and checking out the motorbikes. You have to see it to believe it.
Shop for a good cause
Lake Macquarie Square at Mount Hutton has a special offer: spend $30 in a specialty store or $80 in a major store to receive a free copy of the Two Good Cook Book. Money from each sale will be used to support employment training for women living in shelters in the Lake Macquarie area.
Blueys on the move
Blueys Smokehouse has ceased trading at Cardiff Bowling Club, having been there for two years. They have hinted at opening elsewhere, and soon.
Big plans for The Exchange
The Exchange Hotel at Hamilton is closing in January for renovations and a revamp which will include new live music and balcony spaces. The kitchen is getting a shake-up, too, with "a brand new food offering from award-winning chefs". Sounds interesting.
New venture for chef
Rohan Williams has finished up as head chef at Bar Petite and joined the Bella Italia team on Hunter Street. You might also recognise him from Sandbar Newcastle Beach.
Take a farmgate road trip
The Central Coast Plateau Harvest Trail runs from the Central Coast hinterland and along the scenic Tourist Drive 33 into Wollombi Valley. Check out the trail's Facebook page for events - there is plenty to see and do.
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