The old saying – you can’t judge a book by its cover – could have been written for Chris Asquith.
The father of three from Edgeworth is a systems administrator with Lake Macquarie City Council who loves to bake. So much so, in fact, that he has been selected to compete in the next series of The Great Australian Bake Off.
Judged by Maggie Beer and Matt Moran, and hosted by comedians Claire Hooper and Mel Buttle, the 10-part series on Foxtel’s Lifestyle Food channel puts 12 amateur bakers to the test. Their goal? To be crowned Australia’s best amateur baker.
“A good workmate of mine inspired me to – well, made me – apply,” Asquith told Food & Wine.
“She always pestered me about applying when I’d bring in something I baked. She sent me the application link, I sussed it out and thought, ‘What the hell, why not?’ And applied.”
The self-confessed “Batman freak” says he took up baking “to surprise his kids” and regularly bakes for his work colleagues. Half their luck.
“I like to be outrageous and go to the extremes. I cook a lot of waffles and lots of cakes,” Asquith said. “The thing I love most about baking is that it’s a creative outlet for me – and, of course, I get to eat what I bake when it’s done, so it’s a win win.”
The Bake Off franchise began in 2010 with The Great British Bake Off and has been produced in the US, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Poland, Ireland, Norway, Finland, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Turkey, Ukraine and France. You can cheer Asquith on in series three of The Great Australian Bake Off, which premieres on January 18.
The Commonwealth Hotel’s weekly $11 lunch specials (Monday to Friday only) are worth a look. This week, for example, you can choose from beef ragout, a buttermilk fried chicken burger, Caesar salad or roasted pumpkin and goats’ cheese risotto.
Caves Beach Gelato has opened next to the soon-to-be-opened IGA at 3 Mawson Close. Italian gelato just in time for the summer holidays and only a short walk to Caves and Hams beaches.
New kid on block
Beach Burrito has opened at Cooks Hill and is part of a group of restaurants owned and operated by Sydney-based Blake Read and his family. Why Darby Street?
“It’s a competitive strip … a great area for independent thinkers and businesses to thrive and it attracts the people that have the mindset of those who have always been loyal Beach Burrito customers: creatives, foodies, young families, artisans, board-sports fans,” a spokesperson said. As for the menu, the focus is on “fresh, healthy, Californian-style Mexican cuisine”. A vegan menu will be introduced in 2018.
“Newcastle locals have been so warm, friendly, supportive and open-armed. We have been so busy and people have been awesome with positive feedback and social media posting, we couldn’t be more stoked.”
Lunch on lawn
Head to Market St Lawn today (December 13) for a lunch break with a difference. Enjoy live music, deckchairs and umbrellas, and food from Bao Brothers Eatery and Crafty Street Eats.
We all know Susuru at 140 King Street in Newcastle serves gyoza and ramen noodles to die for, but its unique architectural design is also attracting attention. It recently featured on one of the world’s top architecture sites, Archdaily.com. Architects Prevalent, led by Ben Berwick, and primary builder Pete Haas were praised for “breaking away from the traditional mining aesthetic typical of the area”. Archdaily.com said the restaurant’s design took “cues from Tokyo metro station and train design [and] a predominantly white interior acts as a backdrop to a yellow highlight, a signifier of the brand”.
A new festival experience is heading to the Hunter Valley in the second half of 2018 – End2end Pokolbin. Grant Smith, of Sound Addiction Event Management, told Food & Wine the festival would “showcase the Pokolbin area and all of its attractions … Incorporating food, wine, music and more, spread around four venues throughout Pokolbin, and involving more than 15 wineries with shuttle buses moving from venue to venue on a continuous basis so you can hop on and off as you please”. It’s only early days, though, with an official launch being held early next year. Watch this space.
Win this book
Tacos, by Ricardo Amare Del Castillo, contains more than 50 mouthwatering recipes, full of fresh ingredients and bursting with the authentic taste of South America. Recipes sourced from the heart of Mexico show the reader how to create the perfect taco – from fillings and sauces to homemade tortillas. There are mouthwatering recipes for delicious beef, chicken, seafood and vegetarian tacos. The author left Mexico in his 20s to pursue his passion of becoming a restaurateur and representative of modern Mexico in Australia. He is now based in Sydney. Tacos is out now through New Holland Publishers, RRP $39.99. Food & Wine has a copy to give away. To enter, send the word “Tacos” with your name, address and number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries close on Monday, December 17, at 9am.
Winemakers’ Federation of Australia chief executive Tony Battaglene has responded to claims made by CHOICE last week that a labelling “loophole” about kilojoule content was being “exploited” by the alcohol industry. Rachel Clemons, writing for CHOICE, said: “Due to a regulatory loophole, alcoholic beverages are exempt from labelling kilojoule content, or any other nutrients for that matter.”
Battaglene said: “The wine sector supports the provision of kilojoule information, consistently defined and internationally consistent … Many companies already do this through apps and websites. It is not a requirement now to include kilojoule information and for very good reasons. For the industry, the key focus of the back label is on the alcoholic content which is a mandatory requirement and an important one … There’s a danger that trying to squeeze kilojoule information into the mix ... risks confusing the message about alcohol content. Low kilojoule may also get confused with low alcohol strength.” He said he “looked forward to working on realistic options with CHOICE, governments and others”.