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NEWCASTLE: Our culinary future is in good hands!

Behind every meal, is an experienced set of hands.

“Food, glorious food…” as the song once went. Eating each day for nutrition and survival is one thing, however, there is no doubting that we are a generation of discerning eaters, who love to eat out as part of our lifestyle – whether it is a gourmet burger or something more stylish.

We are a region blessed with choices. The relaxed seafood dining of Port Stephens, al fresco on the Lake, the never-endingcafé and coffee scene of Newcastle, and the wonderful array of choices in the Valley.

Behind every meal, is an experienced set of hands preparing and presenting, which could be a skilful and talented self taught cook in a cafe, or a highly trained and accomplished Chef in our better restaurants.

The Brett Graham Awards

Recently the Brett Graham Awards were held to encourage those young TAFE trained chefs who aspire to greatness.

Brett was a young Novocastrian kitchen hand who decided to become a chef. Fast forward 20 years and Brett Graham is the owner and Executive Chef of one of the top 50 restaurants in the world.

That’s right the world – The Ledbury Restaurant in London’s Notting Hill.

This year’s Brett Graham Award winner was 17 year old, 2nd year apprentice Jacob Hobbs who is learning his craft under master chef Troy Rhoades- Brown of Muse Restaurant – himself a Brett Graham winner 10 years ago.

Runners up in the pressure filled cook-off for 60 people were two equally talented young chefs both from the legendary kitchen of Robert Molines – Kody Hutchinson and Ryan Jones. They too were under the tutelage of another former Brett Graham winner – Garreth Robbs.

So Newcastle Live readers – rest easy – our culinary future is in good hands!

Yellow Billy

Talking about the Valley and food – you’ve got to try Yellow Billy which has opened at the highly rated Piggs Peake Wines on Hermitage Road.

Pig, duck and lamb all cooked in an open fire pit, are complemented by some great seafood, and vegetables that would make even the fussiest person eat their greens!

Well known Hunter chefs Sam Alexander and Emerson Rodriguez (yes – he is also juggling Emersons at Adina), are on the tools at Yellow Billy.

Ginger Meggs

Back in Newcastle and if you haven’t tried the new Ginger Meggs off King Street, then you need to take your culinary self down there and indulge!

Rumour has it that another well known Newcastle eatery may open nearby in coming months, complementing a vibrant food precinct around the all too soon to be gone Tower Cinemas.


Formerly from Maitland, one of the regions great Indian restaurants – Zaffran has taken up King Street residence, not far from Italian classic Napoli Centrale. Close your eyes, listen to the Italian accents, smell the truffle, garlic and parmesan – and you could indeed be in Napoli!

No matter where you dine in King Street – finish it off with a gelato from the legendary Popolo. My tip is to try the pistachio!

Eat often and eat well!

Written by Gus Maher