New head chef a lucky find

MEET THE COOK: The Lucky Hotel's new head chef Wayne Brogan is currently putting together a new menu he hopes will wow the regulars.
MEET THE COOK: The Lucky Hotel's new head chef Wayne Brogan is currently putting together a new menu he hopes will wow the regulars.

Story sponsored by The Lucky Hotel.

It’s funny how life works out. When you’re a young man, the world seems boundless; opportunities endless. You know so clearly what you want. What’s important. Everything else is just background noise. But with age comes wisdom. With choices consequence. And, at a certain point, you have the ability to look back with clarity and see the man you always were. You realise you were always destined to become the man you are. Wayne Brogan was born to cook. He just didn’t realise it instantly.   

The Lucky Hotel’s new head chef has been working in large commercial kitchens across Sydney for more than 23 years. He’s gained accolades, mentored apprentices and even run his own steakhouse in the trendy inner-city suburb of Glebe. 

He’s well known for his slow cooked meats and is in the process of putting together a new menu he hopes will make a big dent in the local scene. However it wasn’t a passion for food that originally drew him to the grill. 

“When I was sixteen years old I fell in love,” Mr Brogan explained.

“My parents were moving to America and if I wanted to stay the only way I could do it was if I got an apprenticeship. And, my older brother was a chef, so I thought, sure, I’ll become a chef.”

That was the ease with which he made a decision that would drastically alter the course of his life. 

Cooking was something that came easily for Mr Brogan – he had natural talent – but like most 16-year-olds he saw his profession as mere pursuit. That’s why he’s lucky, he says, to have worked with a series of head chefs that were prepared to not only share their knowledge with him but push him to be the best he could be.

It was the mentorship of head chef David Stubing that had the biggest impact though. He first started working under Stubing when he was 18. The pair cooked together at Allegros Function Centre in Kenthurst.  

“He passed on a whole lot of passion,” Mr Brogan recalled. 

“He had a strong work ethic and he used to push you. I entered a couple of competitions when I was young and I’d always either win or come runner-up. But he was the one that (made me do it). He just said: ‘No, you’re gunna do it and that’s it’.”

As the years passed his passion developed, especially for slow cooked meats. He became deeply philosophical about the process too. Food is the energy source that fuels life itself, he explained, but it comes at a cost.   

“Those plants and animals gave their lives for a reason and I respect that. So, I don’t believe in destroying meat and I don’t like wasting it,” he said. 

Mr Brogan is also a natural leader. It didn’t take him long to rise to the position of head chef. He would spend the next two decades running kitchens in Sydney. He even opened his own Steakhouse with a mate in Glebe. 

But as the years went by life took its twists and turns. A little over a month ago he made the decision to move to Newcastle to be closer to his son. But as fate would have it, The Lucky Hotel was in the market for a new head chef, and the rest – as they say – is history. 

It was a match made in heaven. The Lucky is home to one of the rarest meat smokers in the country and it’s kitchen is the stuff of local legend.

When the McCloy family bought the hotel in 2008, they spent more than $8m turning the 19 century pub into a stunning spectacle of post modern design, creating an edgy contemporary feel while feeding on the character of the Victorian architecture. It’s centerpiece is a three story outdoor eatery, which is filled to the brim each week with a crop of loyal patrons, each as diverse and eclectic as the decor itself. 

The pub is positioned in the middle of the city and is a big hit with the young professionals who work in the nearby offices. It is equally popular with older patrons and families, looking for a nice meal and place to relax.  

Mr Brogan is currently working with hotel management to develop a new menu which will launch later this month. 

“We’re just expanding on what they already have. We want to stay true to the bones of the place but introduce some new flavours that really help enhance it,” he explained.

“We want to cater for families and in order for the whole family to be able to come out and really enjoy themselves you need a well rounded menu.”

They will continue with the The Lucky’s famous low and slow style but they’ll be adding a few new cuts of meat, along with some sea food, pasta and vegetarian options. They’re also revamping the salads and fresh veggies. Mr Brogan hopes to draw on his experiences to expand on the pub’s famous burger menu too.

Lucky Hotel co-owners Hayley McCloy and Blake Nash say they couldn’t be happier to welcome the head chef and are excited about the new menu.

“Having relocated from Sydney for the position, Wayne brings with him more than 23 years’ experience, a wealth of knowledge and a passion for slow cooked meats. We’re excited to see what he brings to the table,” the pair said in a statement.

“(Patrons can rest assured that we’re) keeping our regular enticing specials, like the $15 Burger and Co. (Mon-Fri Lunch); $15 Striploin and Fries on Monday; the $15 Pasta on Tuesdays; the $12 Cheeseburger and Fries on Wednesdays; and the $15 Fried Chicken with Fries and Slaw on Thursdays.” 

Story sponsored by The Lucky Hotel.