GOOD TASTE: Pictures on plates

WHETHER you show off your cooking skills or simply show up to enjoy the sights, the Newcastle Regional Show is a must for budding and competitive cooks.

In addition to the thrills and spills of the rides, wood chopping, animal displays and more, cooks will also be under pressure, with the judging of a range of cookery and jam sections at the show.

Everything from fruit cakes and puddings, icing and decorating, general cookery, marmalades and jams will be facing the scrutiny of the show’s judges, including the famous Merle Parrish, a Country Women’s Association baking legend, cookbook author and MasterChef star. 

For those keen to get into the kitchen  without the pressure of entering the competitions, there is also plenty on offer. 

Tuck into a dish from the new Multicultural Precinct with cuisines from across the globe. 

At the Cooking Stage, the Newcastle Fishermen’s Co-Op will hold  seafood demonstrations and there will be ‘‘cook-offs’’, pitting cook against cook in front of a live crowd. 

Kids can get in on the cooking action with their own specially designed demonstrations.

Carrington Place head chef Scott Webster will also conduct cooking demonstrations at the show, which he said was an opportunity to show off the best Hunter Region produce and give back to the community.

Whether it be seafood from the Co-op or Forster, or beef from the northern Hunter Region, Webster uses locally sourced products on the Carrington Place menu wherever possible, letting the produce shine.

‘‘I always say, as a chef we’re trying to put a picture on a plate and the picture on a plate is the actual ingredient we’re cooking, not necessarily my ability to decorate it or cover it with sauces,’’ Webster said. 

‘‘My theory at Carrington is very much about the produce being the hero and my ability to cook it and garnish it is really the framework behind the kitchen.’’

Webster will demonstrate a few dishes at the show, selecting the best produce available on the weekend,  choosing from a pantry supplied by IGA including products by Barrington Bakery, Bliss Coffee, Libreri Farm Eggs, Morpeth Sourdough Bakery and Udder Farm Milk.

‘‘I think it’s a great opportunity for patrons at the show to see the local produce we do have and what is available here, rather than looking outside the region,’’ he said.

He’s also keen to show the simple side of cooking with pasta dishes, seafood dishes and recipes using fresh vegetables, all of which can be ready to go on the table in 30minutes.

‘‘I have the KISS theory of food – keep it simple, stupid. Whatever you cook at home, buy good local ingredients and keep it simple. They always say it’s not what you put on the plate but what you leave off that makes it taste better,’’ he said.

Webster will also be tested on his 30-minute dishes when he takes part in the cook-offs with Hunter  celebrities at 11.30am on Saturday.

‘‘There will be a market area to choose produce and then we’ll be put under the pump, a bit like [TV show] Ready Steady Cook I suppose ... I’ll be thrown into the deep end. I’m always nervous about cooking in front of the public,’’ he said before adding, ‘‘No it’ll be fine, it’s a great opportunity for people to learn simple hints about cooking.’’

Webster said the demonstrations would capitalise on people’s hunger to learn more about both cooking and how and where their food is grown or farmed.

‘‘There has been a lot of education over the last 10 years, I guess spearheaded by TV programs and the celebrity chefs that cook on TV and show people how to prepare products,’’ he said. 

‘‘People are much more conscious about where products come from. They want to eat local, they want to eat stuff that is lean, green and fresh, they don’t want it being brought in from Vietnam, Hong Kong or all these other places.’’

The Newcastle Regional Show is on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

For more information visit newcastleshow.com.au.

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