CHEFS from Newcastle and the Hunter are set to unite in the kitchen once again for the annual HMRI Gastronomic Lunch of The Year at Harbourview Function Centre on May 5.
Newcastle restaurateur Neil Slater (owner of Scratchley's and Battlesticks) is at the helm of the event which has raised more than $1.7million for projects at the Hunter Medical Research Institute.
Slater says the event has always relied on the generosity of others. "It's certainly a restaurant community project rather than much to do with me," he said. "Everything is donated - all of the suppliers donate the food, all of the wine suppliers donate the wine, Harbourview donates the venue, and that's how we have managed to do it."
Chefs from Newcastle Harbour's dining precinct, including Six Degrees, Battlesticks, Scratchley's, and Rydges will work alongside "young gun" chefs from Hunter to prepare six courses for 150 guests.
Pastry chef Gareth Williams, from Covered In Crumbs, is overseeing the dessert menu. Chefs include Nathan Bunting of Scratchleys, Aaron Young of Ridges Hotel, Cameron Lavender of Six Degrees, and Cayle O'Beirne of Rydges Hotel.
Funds raised from the event will be put toward a project led by Dr Jordan Smith who aims to explore the impact of exercise on mental health among students completing their HSC. Around one in three senior high school students report experiencing moderate to severe anxiety symptoms, according to studies.
"It's supporting looking at research into anxiety in kids and how to use exercise to relieve that pressure valve," Slater said. "We all feel the pressures of life and it is an increasingly dangerous place we are going with youth suicide and depression.
". . . if we can give people some coping mechanisms and give them some tools toward being more resilient, that should go a great way to making sure they have a more balanced life."
The lunch has supported research into asthma, childhood obesity, diabetes, and autism.
Slater said he was inspired with wife Donna to create the event to help families in need.
With matching funds from the federal government and the efforts of researchers and others, the $130,000 from the lunch is the springboard for nearly $1million in funds, he said.
Tickets cost $290 per head.To purchase call 4042 0580.