Hard work and attention to detail paid off for Hotel Jesmond head chef Paul Thornton when named 2019 Regional Chef of the Year at the Australian Hotel Awards announced on November 19.
Hotel Jesmond enjoyed further recognition with its signature offering, "the Jeso Burger", named best burger in NSW for 2019.
Paul was handpicked by hotel owners the Harris and Narvo Group 12 months ago to oversee a kitchen revamp as part of major renovations completed at the pub.
"It's an excellent achievement for me and a bit surreal to be honest," Paul said.
"To sit down and talk with the owners 12 months ago about where you want to go, and then to have achieved that now with this kind of recognition - we're all ecstatic."
The key to success, Paul said, has been keeping control over food and flavour.
"Approximately 90 per cent of what we serve is created in-house," Paul said.
"The Jeso Burger for example, we make from a blend of beef, pork and sausage, accompanied with a house sauce made from Japanese mayonaise, tomato sauce and American mustard, served simply on milk bun with lettuce, tomato and pickles - not overloaded but super tasty.
"We take a similar approach to all the pub classics, but also offer extended dining options that appeal to those looking for a quality meal at an accessible price."
The new-look kitchen, offering all-day dining Saturday and Sunday, complements the pub renovations perfectly. The layout has been opened up and flows through to a fully covered outside area with a family friendly focus on great dining and entertainment options in comfortable surrounds.
Hotelier Daniel Ferguson said the hotel renovations and Paul's dedication in the kitchen have made for a winning combination.
"The feedback from the community has been really overwhelming, the locals love it. They have been waiting a long time to have a local that ticked all those boxes that a good pub should; great food, good atmosphere, quality beverages and live music. I'm pleased to say we offer it all."