The Grain Store offers a friendly ear, McLeish Estate is celebrating and Crafts on the Coast returns | NIBBLES

The good folk at The Grain Store are doing their best to turn a negative into a positive – and you can help.

Last month their head chef Noel sadly took his own life, leaving behind a young son, Noah, who is about to celebrate his third birthday. 

Owner Corey Crooks said it had been an “extremely tough couple of weeks for our Grain Store family” but they had made the decision to deal with the tragedy by looking at ways to make a difference.

Staff want to “get the message out loud and clear that it is OK to speak to someone when you are feeling low, that there is always someone who cares more than you would know and is always ready to listen. If we can hopefully help even one person who is in the dark place Noel found himself in then nothing is done in vain, there is just way too much of this happening, particularly with young males”.

Crooks had considered cancelling the Black Hops Brewing event on February 23 however has decided to soldier on and run the “beergustation” in Noel’s honour, using it to raise funds and “kick off a trust fund for little Noah”. 

“We hope this gives some comfort to him when he becomes of the age to realise what has happened to his daddy. Also, some reflection of where his dad was working and how many people loved and cared for his dad but were also thinking about him and his life ahead,” Crooks said.

Grain Store staff will be donating wages and tip jar proceeds to the trust account, and a raffle will be run. If you have anything to donate, email Tickets to the six-course event are $85 and can be purchased online through 

On February 28 – Noah’s birthday – the inaugural Cheers 4 Noah will take place at The Grain Store and the plan is, Crooks said, “to run a few karma kegs on our taps with those funds going into the trust”. All are welcome and brewers are invited to get involved.

If you need help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. 

Pantry dinner

Bolton St Pantry is hosting a monthly dinner this Friday and Saturday (February 17 and 18). There will be three entrees and five mains to choose from, as well as dessert and a selection of wines. The cost of an entree and main is $45 and bookings can be made by phoning 4048 1344. With choices like Peking duck tacos, miso and ginger-poached salmon and chocolate chia pudding, it’s worth a look. 

Otago wines

If you’re lucky you might still be able to grab a ticket to Friday’s Charteris Wines Dinner at Bushrangers Bar & Brasserie in Largs. Five courses will be matched to selected wines from the Otago winery’s collection.  The night kicks off with scallops in a caper buerre noisette followed by chicken roulade with apricot and almond three ways, tea-smoked duck, dukkah-crusted lamb cutlet and a cheese and dried fruit platter. Phone 4930 1201 for details. 

Beer festival

Crafts on the Coast is returning to the Seabreeze Beach Hotel in South West Rocks after a successful inaugural event in 2016 which Food & Wine was fortunate enough to attend.

From March 3 to 5 the hotel transforms into a beer lover’s playground, with live entertainment and a selection of local and regional boutique breweries including Bucket Brewery (Kempsey) and Black Duck Brewery (Port Macquarie). 

Entry is free and tasting tickets are available to purchase. Visitors can meet the brewers and taste their way through a selection of local craft beers and ciders. The drinks selection is complemented by beer-friendly food sourced locally from Macleay Valley producers. In addition to the popular Brewers Dinner there will be a spit roast cooked on the hotel’s terrace on the Sunday.

For more information go to, email events@seabreezebeachhotel or phone 6566 6205. Accommodation packages are available. 

Waste not

Bimbadgen teamed up with OzHarvest to make sure leftover food from last weekend’s A Day On The Green concert did not go to waste. Food collected by OzHarvest is distributed to charities to help people in need. 

Wagon Wheel

Coal and Cedar are hosting a special whisky and cocktail evening on March 2 from 6pm. Wagon Wheel will have a Wild West theme and punters are encouraged to dress accordingly.

Tales & Ales

Former Aussie test cricketer David Boon will be sharing a story or two at The Squires Maiden from noon on April 7. For a cost of $95 per person, a Tales & Ales ticket includes canapes on arrival, a main course (pistachio crusted rack of lamb or chargrilled marinated spatchcock) and a three-hour beverage package. 

A fond farewell

In case you weren’t aware, Little House on King ceased trading late last month. Paul Hampton and Michele Bailey ran the modern European restaurant for three years and had this to say to customers: “We appreciated your patronage and love of our food and may see you again in the future. All the best and thank you for spending time at Little House on King”. 

Vintage festival

McLeish Estate is hosting the Vintage Festival on Sunday, March 18, featuring the McLeish Grape Stomp, barrel rolling, a gourmet picnic lunch by chef Brian Duncan of Hunters Quarter, live music by Karen O’Shea and Talk & Taste sessions where guests learn the art of oyster shucking.  Tickets are available online at and cost $10 for adults. Children under the age of 13 years are admitted free.