Aspiring young chefs under pressure at TAFE cook-off this week | FOOD NEWS

TALENT: Billy Fox is cooking off on Thursday against fellow Hunter TAFE students in a quest to enter the 2017 Nestlé Golden Chef's Hat Awards. Picture: Supplied

TALENT: Billy Fox is cooking off on Thursday against fellow Hunter TAFE students in a quest to enter the 2017 Nestlé Golden Chef's Hat Awards. Picture: Supplied

Carrington Place demi chef Billy Fox is hoping to kick-start his culinary career at a Hunter TAFE cook-off this week.

He is one of many aspiring Newcastle region chefs stepping up to the plate at the Hamilton campus on Thursday with a dream of earning a finalist team spot in the  2017 Nestlé Golden Chef's Hat Award.

Ten teams will each create a two-course menu on June 15, scored against strict judging criteria to nationally recognised standards.

“My team has the passion, determination, self-belief and skill to become Golden Chefs,” Fox said.

“With our skills combined, we’re a dynamic duo and we’re going all out to win. It all comes down to the food you produce on the day but we’re going to give it our best shot.”

Executive chef at Nestlé Professional, Mark Clayton, said he would be looking for “flair, creativity, good clean working and great tasting food”.

“The key ingredient for these young hopefuls will be to stay focused as they go all out to deliver their best dishes on the day,” he explained.

Now in its 52nd year, the Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award is Australia’s longest running culinary competition for young chefs. More chefs have entered this year than ever before.

The winning team from the NSW regional heats will secure themselves an all-expenses-paid trip to the national final in Sydney this September, where they will battle it out in front of a live audience in purpose-built kitchens at Fine Food Australia. The winning national team will go on a culinary trip to Vietnam and earn a foot in the door with industry professionals.

Prince’s progress

Some exciting things are happening at The Prince in Merewether. Hotelier Julianne Burford contacted Food & Wine to say the existing restaurant had undergone a “quick transformation”, resulting in pop-up “Mex Americana” restaurant Two Mules. It’s still early days, though, and Food & Wine will bring you the full story in the coming weeks. Also, a pop-up bar at The Prince called The Cat’s Pajamas is in the works and should open later this month. Again, more to come. 

Travel Guides

Newcastle’s Fren family impressed Channel 9 executives and viewers alike in the first season of Travel Guides and will return for season two this year. The closing date for applications has been extended until midnight on Sunday, June 18. On Travel Guides, ordinary Australians experience the same international and domestic holidays and review the same accommodation, cuisine and local sights before rating their stay out of five stars. If you think you’ve got what it takes (and would enjoy a free holiday) head to to complete the application.

Bar by ballot

The clock is ticking to buy a ticket for your chance to win a Hamilton bar and restaurant. Das Hund Haus owner James Sneddon says there are about 12 weeks left before the winner is announced.  

“The new owner may or may not choose to keep Das Hund Haus, the prize is their own bar so it is entirely up to them,” he said.

Sneddon is at Das Hund Haus every other day so drop in for a chat to find out details. 

On the move

Lovedale restaurant Zaih’s has closed its doors at Emma’s Vineyard. This announcement was made on social media on June 7: “It is with regret that we inform you that due to unforeseen circumstances, Zaih’s will be closing, effectively immediately. We will have no further association with Emma’s Cottage. We thank you for your support and hope to see you again soon. In the meantime you can find us at Branxton Meats.” 

Newcastle Herald food critic Judith Whitfield reviewed Zaih’s earlier this year, describing it as a “hidden gem”. It will be interesting to hear what chef Michael Robinson, formerly of Margan Restaurant, The Landing and Becasse in Sydney, is planning to do next.  

Seafood success

In what is good news for Port Stephens cafes and restaurants, Destination Port Stephens has secured $20,000 in state funding to promote the region’s seafood.

The grant builds on the success of the month-long Love Seafood festival introduced last August that celebrated and showcased the region’s fresh seafood. 

Among the highlights made possible by the increased funding will be an “under the sea” themed gala degustation dinner; a family-friendly Fun and Fish Zone; a Fish to Dish Expo with local providores; seafood masterclasses with Sydney Seafood School; Seafoodies hand-on seafood preparation experiences; Lunch and Learn classes and dedicated seafood cruises.

Destination Port Stephens marketing manager Danny Eather said the goal was to establish Port Stephens as “the number one destination for fresh seafood in NSW”.

Cream of crop

Camel Milk NSW, based at Muswellbrook, has won gold for their pasteurised milk and silver for their haloumi at the 2017 Royal Queensland Food & Wine Show. Michelle Phillips opened the camel milk farm – the first of its kind in NSW – in 2015.

Night markets

A new street food night market on Market Street Lawn is being launched on June 24, 4pm to 8pm. Organised by the team behind the Hunt & Gather Markets and The Friday Flea, sisters Gemma Slattery and Karla Cowper, Street Feast will offer dinner, live music and communal dining on a Newcastle strip previously accommodating the railway track. If you have a food truck and are keen to take part, go online to


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