Self-taught Lambton baker makes his mum proudFOOD BITES

POPULAR VOTE: Aman Deep, chef at Kings XI, won the inaugural Menulog Local Plate. Picture: Supplied


The battle for the online takeawayfood market has stepped up a notch, perhaps because of the looming threat that is Uber Eats.

Whatever the reason, though, consumers are ultimately the winners.

At the NewRun finish line on April 2, Menulog’sfirst Taste of the Town cook-off took place andKings XI and Lime Gourmet battled it out for the chance to win the inaugural Menulog Local Plate.

TheHamilton eateries faced off in a tightly contested cooking challenge, with Kings XI’ssignature butter chicken just pipping the post ahead of two pasta dishes from Lime Gourmet.

“We’re so excited to have won the very first Menulog Taste of the Town event. Online ordering is a big part of our business,” Kings XI chef Aman Deep said.

New customers are being offered $10 off an order from any of the 35 Newcastle restaurants on Menulog by entering the code “Newcastle10” at the checkout.

One proud mumA bakery Olympics of sorts took place at Hamilton TAFE recently – the Bakery Association of Australia Competition. Food & Wine heard from Dorothy Pinder, the proud mother of Roy Pinder, who owns and runsWilliams Artisan Bread & Espresso at Lambton.

Roy Pinder, of Williams Artisan Bread & Espresso in Lambton.

Here is what Roy had to say:

“I entered the competition knowing that I was competing against trade-qualifiedbakersand my skills in baking are only from what I have learnt over the years from practice, reading and others who inspire me from all over the world.

“I competed against 68 bakersfrom all over NSW and 370 presented products on the day.

“I thought if I could get some recognition for my efforts in one of the sections I would be happy. But to my amazement I won the Grand Champion Loaf of the Show for my traditional baguette. This was the top prize of the show and the highest pointed bread of the show. It comes with a Perpetual Shield and this is only the second time the shield has been awarded to a bakery in Newcastle in the past seven years.

“I also won Grand Champion for the gourmet bread section because Iwonthe traditional baguette andtraditional white sourdough categories, came second in ciabatta and third for flavoured sourdough.

“I won thirdprize for our gluten-free flourless orange cake in another section, which I have made thousands of times overthe years and is always a house favourite.

“When I was presented the awards by the judges I had tears in my eyes. I have had no formal training, only my passion for what I do.It just shows you that if you enjoy what you do and you have passion for it you can do anything.”

Roy has run Williams Artisan Bread & Espresso for the past 11 years. Two years ago he and his wife Maxine revamped the cafe to pursue a shared passion for baking sourdough bread.

“Maxine hadcompleted a chef’s trade and wanted to put her own twist on our menu offering, andwe have been really excited with the changes we have made,” Roy said.

“We have seen a real following for our food and our all-natural leavened sourdoughs. It brings us great pleasure to makegreat food, bread and coffee for our customers.”

Also successful at the bakery competition were: Exquisite Cakes by Lennart (first in novelty or wedding cake; secondin macaroons and fruit tartlets; third in decorated mud cake); Adam Dobbie from Woolworths Charlestown (first in fruit-filled tea cake); and Hamilton TAFE’s Dutchanee Sangsaway (thirdin the vienna category).

Bag an Ag BagIf you buy an Ag Bag at this year’s Sydney Royal Easter Showyou have the opportunity to make a difference in country NSW. It is the only showbag where 100 per cent of the proceeds directly support rural and regional communities throughthe Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) Foundation’s Community Futures Grant program. The showbag costs$20 but is valued at more than $60, andoffers a range of food and retail products donated by Australian companies.

Tocal returnsSpeaking of country,Tocal Field Days is happening May 5 to 7.This year the eventwill feature urban and community gardensand aims to encourage country and city residents alike to grow and cook their own food.“You don’t need a huge parcel of land to grow your own food and city families especially will be surprised and delighted at what they can do in their own backyards,” field day manager Wendy Franklin said.

Exhibitors will bring a vast array of products and services, from the latest in innovative farming techniques and technology, solar energy and fencing construction through to craft and food and wine products.The animal nursery will be back as well as the working dogs and horses, the Bake or Burn cooking competition and the infamous Penny Tocow, the purple cow.

Easter at CrowneCrowne Plaza Hunter Valley is going all out for Easter this year. Among the many events on offer this week is aHunter High Tea; anEaster Seafood Buffet Spectacular;Crowne Cinema Family Buffet and the annual Easter Egg Hunt.

Two- or three-course set menus at Redsalt Restaurantwill provide an alternative to the traditional buffet.

Redsalt Restaurant executive chef James Ashtonwill be baking his signaturehot cross bun, which will be part of the buffet offering and available for purchase at Lovedale Bar and Brewery. Also, children can learn the joys of cupcake decorating on April 15, with a pastry specialist from the hotel on hand to help.

Phone 4991 0000 for details and bookings.