The Bao Brothers - Dave Griffin and Nathan Martin - have a big year ahead.
To start with, the brothers-in-law will be opening a Bao Brothers at Westfield Kotara in a matter of weeks - their third.
"Bao Brothers' mission has always been to change the way people view fast food," Griffin said.
"We operate in the quick service space but for us quick doesn't mean ordinary. Our menu is designed by passionate, innovative chefs. It's always been about the food since day dot."
He said their lunch offering "just got a whole lot more exciting" and thanked customers for their ongoing support.
"We are continually overwhelmed by the support and feedback we receive week in and week out. We have a great culture at Bao Brothers and are really proud of our team."
Also, Bao Brothers is now the official supporter of Top Blokes Foundation.
The foundation is "on a mission to improve young male health and wellbeing" by working with groups of boys and young men over a three- to six-month period to "increase their resilience, empathy and respect for self and others, and in doing so work to reduce the rates of suicides, mental health issues, antisocial and risk-taking behaviours".
"Our industry has a disproportionate percentage of young males at risk of depression, anxiety, risk-taking behaviours and suicide," Griffin explained.
Added Martin: "Like us, Top Blokes is relatively new on the scene and we both have big growth plans. We wanted to use our platform to help spread the word. One of our values is giving back. After the year that was 2020 we wanted to do more for the amazing community that supported us."
A range of fundraising measures have been introduced, including $1 from the "fries of the month" going directly to Top Blokes, and customers being able to donate in store.
"All donations will go to local communities and schools to help deliver more of these incredible programs," Griffin said.
New executive chef
Praveen Leelavathy has taken up the executive chef position at Château Élan's The Vintage Bar and Grill.
He was most recently head chef at Oaks Cypress Lakes, also in the Hunter Valley, has won medals at the Emirates International Salon Culinaire Competition series and has worked in kitchens across the United Arab Emirates and India.
Château Élan's director of sales and marketing, Jodie Staples, say Praveen not only brings international acclaim, but also global flair to his new role.
"We are excited to have Praveen join our team and bring his international skills and experience to our guests, our members and the local community," she continued.
At The Vintage Bar & Grill Praveen will combine his modern take on international flavours with his passion for using fresh, local ingredients. A host of new additions to the menu are planned, such as 24-hour braised short ribs and confit seafood delicacies.
"I am thrilled to be part of the Château Élan team and continue to strengthen relationships with local suppliers as well as the wider community," he said.
Praveen and his wife Anupriya moved to Australia in 2018 and call the Hunter Valley home.
Harbour Bar Newcastle is taking over the kitchen at Mayfield Bowlo, starting this Friday, March 5. The venture is called On The Greens and the menu covers everything from braised beef brisket nachos to schnitzels and a crispy pork and green mango salad.
Supper Club returns
Marks Point Cafe is bringing back its popular Supper Club. The first is being held on March 13 and is called Craft Beer & Smoked Meat.
Simple but also effective. Tickets are selling fast.
Hoagies at the Hub
Lynch's Hub at Honeysuckle has added hoagies to its menu. Choices include The Mad Dog, Schrute Farm Falafel, Halloween Hoagie, Reuby Tuesday, Benny Breaky Bun and the Chimmi Chook.
Chef Chad Carlson has been busy. On March 13 he is hosting a (sold out) five-course, Australian native flavours degustation dinner at the Newcastle United Services Club on Watt Street.
Eating for sport
Don't forget, it's showtime this weekend. The Newcastle Show now hosts the nation's largest competitive eating competition and the finalists will be in action at the exhibition centre. The schedule is as follows:
Friday, March 5: 5.30pm Criniti's - Speed Eating (1m pizza); 6.30pm Rascal - Speed Eating (1.25kg burger); 7pm Mayfield West Kebabs - Speed Eating (1.6kg mixed snack pack); 7.30pm Chilli Factory - Chilli Eating (Scoville Scale).
Saturday, March 6: 5pm DoughHeads - Speed Eating (500g of doughnuts); 5.30pm Harbour Bar - Speed Eating (2.8kg burger); 7pm Newy Fried Chicken - Speed Eating (300g chicken wings); 7.30pm Chilli Factory - Chilli Eating (Scoville Scale)
Sunday March 7: Noon Smokin Hot 'N Saucy - Speed Eating (1.8kg burger); 12.30pm Miller's Pie's - Capacity (vanilla slice eating); 1.30pm Chilli Factory - Chilli Eating (Scoville Scale).
Competitive eating always takes me back to the classic coming-of-age movie, Stand By Me. That pie-eating scene and the ensuing chaos is memorable. Hopefully this weekend's competition won't be as messy.
A city slicker's take on Valley life
When Todd Alexander and his partner jumped from corporate jobs in Sydney to a winery on 100 acres in the Hunter Valley, little did they know that their story would end up in the pages of a book. Two books, in fact.
You've Got To Be Kidding: A Shedload of Wine & A Farm Full of Goats is the follow-up to author Alexander's memoir Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga, which was longlisted for the Australian Independent Bookseller Awards. It continues the rural adventures of these two self-confessed city slickers, who muddled their way into building a successful boutique accommodation and winery business against all odds.
You've Got To Be Kidding: A Shedload of Wine & A Farm Full of Goats is out now through HarperCollins, RRP $34.99.
IN THE NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: