in the media: 'Food & Wine' The Herald
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A restaurant is more than its menu. 

The people who guide you to your table, take your order and serve your meal are just as important as what comes out of the kitchen. Service can make or break a culinary experience. 

Hunter Culinary Association has recognised this with its First Creek Front of House and Rising Star scholarships, in addition to its Brett Graham Scholarship for promising apprentice chefs. At the association’s Spring Seasonal Lunch at Margan Restaurant on November 12 they have secured two special guests passionate about both.

Restaurateurs Anna and Alessandro Pavoni know more about the hospitality industry than most. Together they operate four successful Sydney venues: Ormeggio at the Spit, Via Alta, Sotto Sopra and Chiosco by Ormeggio.

Anna is a founding board member of Women in Hospitality who grew up on the Central Coast.

“My first job was washing dishes when I was 14. The one which I’d consider my first ‘proper’ hospo job, though, was working at Terrigal Thai for an amazing and strong woman, Toy Samingkaew, who still runs the restaurant today,” she said.

“She’d be pushing 85 and she’s still on the floor and managing the restaurant. She’s amazing. She taught me the responsibility of the hostess – assign tables, meet, greet, seat. That was it, I was hooked.”

Pavoni is keen to promote the hospitality industry in its many guises, with a particular focus on women. 

“Hospitality has a reputation for being unfriendly for women because at the end of the day, yes, children come along and yes, women have traditionally had to deal with that but far out, life does not just stop when that happens,” she said, laughing.

Read the full interview HERE

Gus Maher
In the Media:
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Enjoy lunch and learning at Margan Restaurant in the Hunter.

Two of Sydney’s most talented, experienced and highly regarded culinary stars are taking their knowledge and passion on the road.

Those lucky enough to benefit from Alessandro and Anna Pavoni’s travels will be guests at this year’s Hunter Culinary Association Spring Seasonal Lunch at the acclaimed Margan Restaurant in Broke. 

The Pavonis, who operate four successful Sydney venues, Ormeggio at the Spit, Via Alta, Sotto Sopra and Chiosco by Ormeggio, will share their knowledge with up-and-coming apprentice chefs, association members and guests, before diners enjoy a three-course lunch from Margan head chef Thomas Boyd accompanied with premium Margan wines.

To book tickets to our Spring Seasonal Lunch visit our events page.

To read the full story click HERE

Gus Maher
in the media: The Newcastle Herald
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Alessandro Pavoni - The Ormeggio Group

Alessandro Pavoni - The Ormeggio Group

Restaurateurs Alessandro and Anna Pavoni will attend Hunter Culinary Association’s Spring Seasonal Lunch at the one-hatted Margan Restaurant in Broke on November 12.

The husband-and-wife team operate four successful Sydney venues: Ormeggio at the Spit, Via Alta, Sotto Sopra and Chiosco by Ormeggio. At 10.30am, Alessandro will prepare Italian cuisine using contemporary flavours, techniques and textures. He will be joined by his wife Anna, a founding board member of Women in Hospitality and a highly-regarded force in the industry. She will share with guests her back-of-house experiences across four venues, her passion for customer service and what she has learned about the hospitality industry.

Following Alessandro’s cooking demonstration, Margan head chef Thomas Boyd will prepare a three-course lunch served with a selection of premium Margan wines. All are welcome to attend. The cost is $100 for Hunter Culinary Association members, $130 for non-members and $30 for apprentice chefs.

To read the full story HERE

Gus Maher
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Meet Kyle Whitbourne.  Kyle has been a member of the Hunter Culinary Association for two years before recently taking on a role as a committee member at the beginning of 2017 and is doing a stellar job! 

We caught up with Kyle recently to find out about his career as a chef.

1. Where do you work and what is your role? 

I am Head Chef for Restaurant Mason Catering.

2. The best part of your job?

The feeling after service when you stop for a moment and take a breath to reflect. Customers are fed and happy, fridges that you spent the day stocking are now empty, kitchen banter starts up and the team pushes on. There is real satisfaction in that moment for me.

3. What drew you to a career in hospitality?

As a teenager my first job was working as a kitchen hand on weekends at a busy café. I always loved food as a kid; I also studied hospitality and food tech at school, so from a young age I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do for a career. I don’t feel that any one aspect drew me in, it was a combination of things. Getting to try different foods, the structure of a kitchen brigade, the hustle of service, making the kitchen spotless and organised, satisfied customers, comradery and it’s an industry that even if the establishment is quiet there is always something to do.

4. Have you had career mentors?

There has been a few chefs that I have chosen to work with as I feel they are closest to how I like to cook. Throughout my career, I’ve worked in cafes, hotels, pubs and fine dining restaurants. Each job and brigade of chefs have done things differently. Whether that is in a culinary sense or how it is operated and managed. From each position some things have resonated with me and that is now reflected in how I work, cook and operate today. This also applies to negative aspects; I try to make a conscious effort not to adopt certain attitudes or practices, which perhaps impacted me more as a young chef.

5. If we were visiting the Hunter for this first time what would be three things you would recommend to see or do?

- Hunter Valley skydiving

- Bitter & Twisted Beer Festival

- Wander Newcastle and discover the many great eating and drinking spots - there are so many to try!

Be sure to sign up for our 'Seasonal Goodness' newsletter!

Gus Maher
in the media: The Newcastle Herald
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From left to right: Mitch Orr (Acme) Hamish Watt (Crowne Plaza) Joel Bickford (Aria) Frank Fawkner (EXP Restaurant)

From left to right: Mitch Orr (Acme) Hamish Watt (Crowne Plaza) Joel Bickford (Aria) Frank Fawkner (EXP Restaurant)

His scampi cocktail was the dish of the day, edging out Hamish Watt’s strawberry Eton mess, Mitch Orr’s carpaccio parmigiana and Joel Bickford’s lamb roast. All four chefs were asked to create unique takes on classic dishes that have stood the test of time.

The ninth annual Food Fight was held at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley and hosted by two of Australia’s leading chefs and long-time supporters of the event, Colin Fassnidge and Matt Kemp, and association chair Gus Maher. An in-form Fassnidge thanked the equally amusing Kemp for helping him dress for the occasion, despite his “cold hands”.

On a more serious note, though, the auction raised $40,000 to support industry scholarships and food rescue charity, OzHarvest. 

Read the full story HERE

Gus Maher