Rock on at Stonehurst Wines and dine under the big top for a good cause | FOOD BITES

Wine, a picnic and live music among the poplar groves. Sound tempting? Then bring your picnic blanket or chair to Stonehurst Wines, just outside Wollombi, for Rock ’n’ Blues Revival in the Grove on May 6.

You can pack your own lunch, order a gourmet Ploughman’s Platter or grab a sausage sandwich, and beers and wines will be available for purchase. Blues storyteller Rory Ellis, who this week released his new album One Skin, will join The Runaway Cabbages and the Nightmoves on stage.

The concert is from 11am to 5pm. Entry costs $30 adult; $25 Stonehurst Wine Club members; children aged 17 and under admitted free. Phone 4998 1576, email or go online to for more information. 

FUN IN THE SUN: Stonehurst Wines, just outside Wollombi, is hosting Rock ’n’ Blues Revival in the Grove on May 6. You can pre-order a Ploughman's Platter, too.

FUN IN THE SUN: Stonehurst Wines, just outside Wollombi, is hosting Rock ’n’ Blues Revival in the Grove on May 6. You can pre-order a Ploughman's Platter, too.

Cooking classes

Sophie Stokes, of In Sofia’s Kitchen fame, is hosting three cooking workshops. The first is the Winter Warmers Workshop on June 3, 10am to noon, a hands-on class divided into small groups and making fassolada, avgolemono, harira soup and fetta twists. Cost $95. A Tasty Childhood, on July 14, 10am to noon, is for children aged 10 and up and only 12 places are available. Small groups will make keftedes me patates, galaktobureko and mini pizzas. Cost $55. And on July 29, 10am to 11.30am, is the Middle Eastern Wonders cooking demonstration. Cost $70. To book, go online to

Chef’s Hat Award

If you’re a young chef looking for a challenge, consider entering the 2017 Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award. The longest-running culinary competition in the country offers the next generation of talent the chance to test their skills, gain valuable experience and compete for a career-changing prize, not to mention national recognition. Those taking part will enjoy mentorship from some of the industry’s top players and gain access to a national network of inspirational professionals, with this year’s National Champions being awarded a prize trip to Vietnam for a once-in- a-lifetime culinary experience.

If successful in your region’s heat, you will get to cook-off against the country’s best chef talent at the national final in Sydney this September. Register at until May 12.

Circus dining

A pop-up dinner under the big top next month will raise funds for the PCYC Newcastle Time4Kids appeal. Underground Epicureans will bring the magic of the circus to your dinner table as you enjoy a four-course meal from Sprout Dining under a circus tent in the grounds of PCYC Newcastle at Broadmeadow.

You can expect the unexpected at this fun-filled event being held over two nights: May 26 and 27. Circus Avalon is on board, so keep your eye out for aerial acrobats, and Hot Potato Band will provide the soundtrack.

Money raised will fund police and club programs to get young offenders and “at risk” youth active in life, develop their skills, character and leadership, and reduce and prevent crime by, and against, young people. Ticket price is $150 per person and includes food, drink and entertainment. 

Lunch for autism

Restaurateur Neil Slater is again hosting the annual Gastronomic Lunch to raise funds for Hunter Medical Research Institute. Last year’s lunch raised more than $130,000 for dementia research and this year, it’s all about autism. Scratchley’s on the Wharf, Six Degrees, Paymasters, Battlesticks Bar & Tapas and Seasalt Restaurant are all donating their time and talents to this worthy cause, which is being held at Harbourview Function Centre on May 7.  

Tips of the trade

The Essential Ingredient continues to offer a diverse range of cooking classes at its The Junction store. 

On May 2 French For You, featuring chef Kyle Whitbourne, formerly of Muse Restaurant, Bells at Killcare and now head chef at Deck 56, takes place from 5.30pm to 8.30pm. Dishes including nicoise salad, steak tartare and bouillabaisse with croutes and rouille will be discussed. And dessert? Lime and elderflower savarin, chantilly cream with rhubrarb and straweberry compote. Cost $145. 

Also, the Banchan Korean Masterclass is on May 20, 10am to 3pm. This five-hour masterclass will help home cooks develop an understanding of the textures and flavours needed to produce a traditional spice-driven banquet. Cost $200.

Food Fight 2017

The official launch of Hunter Culinary Association’s 2017 Food Fight took place at Quay Restaurant on Monday. The competing chefs are Aaron Ward (Sixpenny); Rob Kabboord (Quay); Sean Townsend (Muse Kitchen); and Gareth William (Restaurant Mason).

New bar menu

Gamble & Brown, a cafe at Kotara Homemaker Centre, is launching a new bar menu on May 12. From 5.30pm to 8.30pm there will be live music and, of course, food and wine to enjoy. ​

Show success

Newcastle’s Janette Robertson, who featured in the Herald earlier this year when she announced her retirement from the Newcastle Show cookery competition, has proven herself at this year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show. Food & Wine has been told that she “cleaned up”. Details to come. 

Noosa festival

The Noosa Food & Wine Festival just keeps growing. Chefs Sat Bains and Geoff Lindsay will now host dinners at Wasabi, dessert king Adriano Zumbo has been added to the festival program and wine lovers will be indulged at the Urban Winery by Dan Sims and Mike Bennie. The festival runs from May 18 to 21.