Lesley Taylor and Daniel Wijekoon win bronze at Chef's Table

BRONZE: Wests New Lambton chefs Lesley Taylor and Daniel Wijekoon placed third in the annual Chef's Table competition. Also pictured is Catherine Mancuso, managing director of CCM Travel.
BRONZE: Wests New Lambton chefs Lesley Taylor and Daniel Wijekoon placed third in the annual Chef's Table competition. Also pictured is Catherine Mancuso, managing director of CCM Travel.

Wests New Lambton this week placed third in the annual Chef’s Table cooking competition thanks to the talents of head chef Lesley Taylor and sous chef Daniel Wijekoon.

Lesley Taylor and  Daniel Wijekoon in action at the Chef's Table cook-off last month.

Lesley Taylor and Daniel Wijekoon in action at the Chef's Table cook-off last month.

It is a huge achievement, given that the pair were competing against 52 industry peers from across the state at a cook-off held at Ryde TAFE last month.

The Chef's Table Competition was created to reward and recognise the many talented chefs, cooks and apprentices in NSW clubs. 

“Well done to Western Suburbs Leagues Club New Lambton. This recognition is another reminder that you don’t have to dine at exclusive Sydney restaurants to sample the best cuisine that NSW has to offer,” said ClubsNSW chief executive Anthony Ball said.

“Many of the state’s finest restaurants are inside registered clubs, so it’s little surprise that the judges found it difficult to split the teams.”

Gold was awarded to Club Toukley RSL and Silver to Eastern Suburbs Leagues Club. Bankstown Sports Club’s Cameron Murden was named Apprentice of the Year.

Each team was required to design and prepare a three-course menu, with ingredients not exceeding a total food cost of $22 per person.

The dishes were judged on criteria including hygiene, interaction between team members, placement of food, visual aspect, taste and texture.

In their judging report, the panel said: “A very inventive team that pushed boundaries and sensorial aspects. An elegant entrée that was of Michelin standard.”

More on Hobarts and Lesley Taylor in an upcoming Food & Wine. 

Busy head chef 

FRESH START: Sarah Hill, head chef at Sydney Junction Hotel. Picture: Supplied

FRESH START: Sarah Hill, head chef at Sydney Junction Hotel. Picture: Supplied

If you’ve stepped foot in The Sydney Junction Hotel in recent months you will have noticed that it has been renovated inside and out.

So has its menu, under the guidance of head chef Sarah Hill, formerly of Deck 56 and Squires Maiden. She followed in the footsteps of former head chef Andrew Sheather and his wife Camille, who got the ball rolling for owners Campbell and Clare Rogers.

Sydney Junction Hotel, Hamilton.

Sydney Junction Hotel, Hamilton.

The revised menu better reflects the new-look hotel which is popular with families. There are improved share plate selections, desserts and mid-week specials, and contemporary burgers, mains, salads and starters. Classics like the house-made chicken schnitzel and the lambs fry and bacon are $15.

Best in business

Commercial Fishermens Co-Operative picked up awards for Best Seafood Retailer (NSW) and the Seafood Business Award at the Sydney Fish Market Seafood Excellence Awards last week. The Co-Operative has stores at Wickham, Swansea, Tacoma and Gorokan and was the only business to win two categories. At the event new research by Deloitte Access Economic was released that estimated Sydney Fish markets’ economic contribution to the Hunter region to be $9.9 million.

Orana bistro

Word on the street is that The Orana Hotel at Blacksmiths has upped its food game with the recent change of ownership. The bistro menu is traditional but contemporary and there are nightly specials to take advantage of, as well as $5 kids’ meals.

The winning team from Commercial Fishermens Co-Operative. Picture: Supplied

The winning team from Commercial Fishermens Co-Operative. Picture: Supplied

Hour of power

You don’t really need an excuse to order dumplings but on Monday, August 7, you will be doing it for a good cause. For every dumpling basket sold at New Shanghai, Charlestown Square, between 6pm and 7pm on that day New Shanghai will donate a dumpling basket to SecondBite.

“SecondBite is a fantastic cause and I am delighted that New Shanghai’s dumplings are going to help those who are doing it tough,” chef Sheung-Hua He told Food & Wine. 

SecondBite redistributes surplus fresh food to more than 1200 community food agencies around Australia in a bid to help feed those who are less fortunate.

Open on Darby

Speaking of dumplings, Dumpling Flavour has opened at shop 1/88 Darby Street, Cooks Hill, the former site of Terminus on Darby. The menu is huge.

New Shanghai dumplings

New Shanghai dumplings

Beer and cheese

Cheese educator Sonia Cousins is joining forces with FogHorn Brewhouse on August 3 for a night of beer and cheese that she says “is both educational and entertaining”. Tickets cost $69 per person, which includes a beer on arrival, five guided beer and cheese pairings, and a main meal to finish. 

Crack the safe

Mark Chegwidden from the Crown & Anchor Hotel contacted Food & Wine about a competition they are running on Fridays from 5pm to 7pm and Sundays from 3pm to 5pm. If you guess a five-digit number correctly, he said, you can win two tickets to the Las Vegas to watch the Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather fight live. 

Winery lunch

Tickets are still available to Carne e Vino at De Iuliis Wines this Saturday, July 20. The event kicks off at 11am with sparkling wine and canapes, followed by a lunch paired with De Iuliis Wines. There will be meat and cheese demonstrations throughout the day with barrel tastings and back vintages also available to guests. Tickets are $140 per person, phone 4993 8000 or email sales@dewine.com.au.

Earth Market

The twice-weekly produce market run by Slow Food Hunter Valley has, Maitland mayor Peter Blackmore said, been approved as the first Earth Market in Australia. It will take place at 1pm on Thursday, August 3, in The Levee Shared Zone. 

“Earth Markets are a worldwide network of farmers’ markets that respect the slow food philosophy. They are community run and strive to connect local producers with communities to sell their product directly to customers, sharing knowledge about their produce, its qualities and the work involved,” Cr Blackmore said.

Award winner

Congratulations to Jesmond Fruit Barn who won the Knowledge in Action award at the Sydney Markets Fresh Awards Gala Night in Sydney last week. The award “recognises a business for being proactive in educating its customers about fresh produce in a clear and enthusiastic manner”.  

Tapas at Bay

Food & Wine popped in to Evviva Cafe & Bar at Nelson Bay the other day and met co-owner Melissa Stewart. The cafe’s eclectic interior is something different for the town, with a vintage piano and seating ranging from sofas, tapas tables or wine barrels by the bar. There’s also a private dining room and a sunny courtyard area out the back, and live music. The Japanese-influenced tapas dinner menu has proven to be particularly popular.

Evviva Cafe & Bar at Nelson Bay.

Evviva Cafe & Bar at Nelson Bay.

Gourmet feast

The annual Stonehurst Long Table Luncheon is on Saturday, October 14. Set among the poplar trees, it is a five-course, farm-to-table gourmet feast paired with organic wine and live music. Chef Matt Dillow is in charge of the menu, which includes Cedar Creek venison. Tickets are $99 members, $109 non-members, at cedarcreekcottages.com.au.

Sausage king

TAFE NSW Hamilton is hosting the annual Australian Sausage King and Best Butchers Burger regional competitions on Thursday, July 27. Winners will proceed to the state final in Tamworth on September 23.