Shayne Mansfield is joining the team at Flotilla in Wickham.
Originally from Brisbane, he was most recently head chef at Pokolbin's Restaurant Botanica. His resume includes stints at e'cco, City Social in London and The Long Apron.
"My position was made redundant at Botanica when COVID hit, but after five years with Spicers Retreats it was time to move on anyway," he told Food & Wine.
"Since then I've been at the Eddies (The Edwards) on the fly, helping out Michael Portley with the new menu, and helping my mate Josh Gregory at Muse Kitchen as well. But when the Flotilla position came up, I put my hand up as far as it would go [laughs]. I've got a good circle of chef mates in Newcastle now, and we all help one another."
Food & Wine understands Flotilla chef Jess Brooks is moving on.
Mansfield says he and Flotilla head chef Paul Niddrie will be "splitting the menu" between them.
"It will be quite an intimate dining experience, with the chefs talking about and explaining the food while making it. It will have a Scandinavian feel," he said.
"The menu will be hyper-regional and hyper-seasonal, showcasing amazing produce from the Hunter and greater NSW region. I can't wait."
Diners can see Mansfield in action at Flotilla from September 30.
Rumour has it Mizumi, a Japanese restaurant, is opening at Toronto on The Boulevarde where Tandoori Lounge used to be.
Emilio's Ristorante is opening at Warners Bay, at the former home of Travinos and Mama Mex on King Street. The building has been a hive of activity in recent weeks, with the exterior being repainted and furniture moved in.
Newcastle Food and Flower Markets at Sandgate is hosting a Mexican Fiesta on Halloween night (October 31, 5pm to 9pm). A Mexican degustation menu will be served as you are entertained by a mariachi band, and there will be a prize for best-dressed couple. Tickets cost $89 per person and can be booked by emailing email@example.com. Sounds like a lot of fun.
The Rum Diary Bar Newcastle has had to push back its official opening date, which was to have been September 19. Owner Jacob Goss, who also owns the Rum Diary Bar in Fitzroy, The Rose Bar in Richmond and Runnin' On Empty, is having trouble getting his rum selection to Newcastle due to lockdown restrictions. When it does open, he plans to watch all the action from afar on his laptop, captured by The Rum Diary Newcastle's security camera, with a rum in hand - unless borders re-open before then.
Start the day right
If you haven't experienced a Zaaki Espresso breakfast, you should. Just saying. They may be known for their coffee and baklava cheesecake but their breakfasts are right up there, too. You can find them on Maitland Road at Mayfield.
Twilight dinner at Wollombi
Noyce Brothers Wine at Wollombi is hosting The Sculpture Twilight Dinner on October 31, kicking off at 4pm in the picturesque gardens of Grays Inn. There will be a jazz band, canapés and sparkling wine followed by a three-course feast from Panino Restaurant and wines from Noyce Brothers. Tickets cost $130 per person and can be booked online at noycebros.com.au. All profits go to The Wollombi Valley Sculpture Festival, which is now in its 18th year and runs from October 17 to November 1.
Gin and jazz festival
Jazz in the Vineyards has partnered with the Tower Distillery & Winery to present the Hunter Valley Gin & Jazz Festival. It will be held on April 10 and feature tastings, gin masterclasses, markets, music, plenty of food options, a Kids Zone and more.
Burritos to go
Guzman y Gomez is opening at Kotara Home (Killaiba Road, Kotara) on Thursday, September 24. To celebrate, they are offering $5 burritos and burrito bowls from 7am to 10pm.
What's in season this month? According to Slow Food Hunter Valley, cabbage, leek, wombok, cos lettuce, broccoli, carrot, beetroot, romanesco, red onion, pumpkin, potato, shallot and silverbeet. Chat to local farmers and stock up on fresh produce at the Earth Market Maitland every Thursday, 8.30am to 1.30pm, at The Levee, Central Maitland.
The Little Castro team is bravely entering the Newy Fried Chicken kitchen on Thursday (September 17) to create a unique burger: fried chicken with iceberg lettuce, cheese, pineapple and coconut chilli salsa, crispy bacon and chimichurri aioli, all served on a potato bun. Eat-in or take away until they sell out. And they will.
The Bavarian's back
The Bavarian is re-opening at Stockland Green Hills on Wednesday, September 23, from noon, and celebrating with the Spring Fest menu. The restaurant will feature contactless, tap and go mobile phone order and payment technology by me&u, which negates the need for menus and manual cash or card transactions for customers.
Delivery and pick-up services are also available via Uber Eats and Menulog.
"We are thrilled to be re-opening The Bavarian Green Hills and are doing so with the safety of our customers and team members front of mind, and with cutting-edge technology in place to deliver a safe dining experience," Rockpool Dining Group chief executive officer Thomas Pash said.
It's open Wednesday to Saturday, noon to 9pm, and Sunday, noon to 7.30pm.
Freebie of the week
Tempted to try your hand at vegan food but don't know where to start? Or even just to make meat-free Monday a regular thing?
Long gone are the days of vegan food being dull and worthy: Vegan 100 is bold, vibrant and gorgeous. Going vegan was the best decision Gaz Oakley ever made. Gaz, aka Avant-Garde Vegan, decided to go vegan for the health benefits, for his love of animals and to do his part in looking after the planet. He found that, as a trained chef, it was surprisingly easy to get big tastes and colours into vegan dishes.
Vegan 100 is out now through Quadrille Publishing. Food & Wine has a copy to give away. To enter, send the words "Vegan 100" with your name, address and number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries close on Monday at 9am.
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