The Fren family frock up for the Logies red carpet and say hello to Jack's Hideout | Food News | Newcastle Herald

FUN: It is their sense of humour and down-to-earth personalities that have endeared Newcastle's Fren family to television audiences on Travel Guides. Picture: Supplied

FUN: It is their sense of humour and down-to-earth personalities that have endeared Newcastle's Fren family to television audiences on Travel Guides. Picture: Supplied

The Fren family were busy answering phones on Monday as part of Channel 9’s Gold Telethon to raise money for Sydney Children’s Hospital.

Mark Fren, who owns and runs Oma’s Kitchen on Newcastle’s Watt Street with the help of his wife Cathy and their children Jonathon and Victoria, told Food & Wine it was “great fun”.

The family has been asked to return for season three of Travel Guides and will begin filming in mid to late July. The series has been nominated for a Logie Award in the “Most Popular Reality Program” category and is up against I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!, Married At First Sight, My Kitchen Rules and The Block

The Frens will be walking the red carpet on July 1 at the 60th Annual TV Week Logie Awards on the Gold Coast and are hoping Novocastrians will get behind them and give Travel Guides their vote. Voting opens on June 25.

“The girls have a wonderful local designer working on their dresses. Her name is Katie Maree and has been working with Cathy and Victoria to design creative outfits for the red carpet,” Mark said. “Katie Maree is an Australian-made women’s fashion label located and manufactured in Newcastle. Her luxurious, bohemian influenced designs range from casual streetwear to stunning evening wear.”

Oma’s Kitchen will close on June 30 and re-open in December when Travel Guides filming winds up and “after Supercars”. In typical Fren style, though, they’re going out with a bang. A special red carpet event is being held at Oma’s on closing night. 

Jack’s Hideout

Hamilton’s Apothecary Kitchen has changed hands. Ben Armstrong is moving on and siblings Deacon Simpson, Tiffany Fordham and Susannah Simpson are moving in.  

“We are rebranding to Jack’s Hideout and will keep some of the great dishes from Apothecary Kitchen while adding some more mainstream and on-trend dishes,” Tiffany told Food & Wine. 

“Our parents own The Point Restaurant in Soldiers Point so we have all grown up in the industry and are really looking forward to venturing out on our own. 

“We called it Jack’s Hideout because Jack is our Grandfather who has inspired us to take the plunge of purchasing the cafe. Jack has been very successful in business through making smart decisions and taking calculated risks and has always encouraged us to do the same. We wanted to use his name in our venture as a gesture of our appreciation of him backing us through every step.” 

Jack’s Hideout opens on Monday, June 18 at 5/103 Tudor Street, Hamilton. Pop in and say hello. 

Warm welcome

WELL TRAVELLED: Bernhard Kerschbaumer with his daughter Maya and wife Sharon.

WELL TRAVELLED: Bernhard Kerschbaumer with his daughter Maya and wife Sharon.

The temperature is finally starting to drop and the time is right to enjoy warming comfort food at Doppelganger Kitchen & Bar on Darby Street.

Owner Bernhard Kerschbaumer has been a chef for more than 30 years and in that time, wife Sharon tells Food & Wine, he has “worked in restaurants, five-star hotels, luxury cruise ships and has owned his own restaurants”. 

Born and raised in Austria, he ended up in Australia after “travelling the world” and was, she says, “inspired by the vibe, people and location of Darby Street”. It prompted the move north from Sydney. 

“He was extremely impressed by the vibe of Newcastle in general,” Sharon explained.

“Doppelganger’s point of difference is the European experience we provide – warm hospitality and wonderful home-cooked meals. You can warm yourself on a cold day with a mug of gluhwein (mulled wine) or enjoy good conversation with friends over European beers. We are licensed so you can just enjoy a beer but most come for a beer and stay for dinner, seduced by the aromas from our kitchen.”

Doppelganger's pork knuckle. Picture: Supplied

Doppelganger's pork knuckle. Picture: Supplied

She describes Austrian as “a bit of mixing pot of Europe: German, Polish, Hungarian, Serbian and Italian all mixed together”.

Some of the most popular dishes on Doppelganger’s menu are the veal schnitzel, the pork knuckle, and the schupfudel (Austrian gnocchi) with sides of kipfler potato salad, sauerkraut and spatzle. Everything is made in-house by Kerschbaumer – including a very tasty apple strudel – at 161 Darby Street, Cooks Hill.

An elite club

Redhead business Oz Tukka has been invited to attend Fine Food Australia in Melbourne in September. Linda Dipper and Ray Kochel will be on the Flavours of NSW stand with the NSW Department of Industry. Fine Food Australia showcases the latest products, new ideas and new techniques by food industry leaders. Oz Tukka started selling native Australian spices and oils in 2003, well before they became a buzz word in culinary circles. They also sell ingredients free from gluten, preservatives and chemicals at

Cooking classes

School holidays are just around the corner and The Essential Ingredient is again running children’s cooking classes. Go online to to book. These fun and educational classes tend to book out so get in sooner rather than later.

Seasonal deal

Carrington Place is now offering two- and three-course menus from its seasonal a la carte menu for $39 and $49 respectively on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Owner Scott Webster said a new “bring your best bottle” policy meant no corkage would be charged.

France’s finest

Bushrangers Bar and Brasserie is hosting a Champagne Soiree on June 30, 3pm to 5pm, in conjunction with Decante This. Phone 4930 1201 to book – tickets cost just $39 per person, or $59 for two – and sample fine French champagne.


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