4 to 6 September 2019 - Hunter Valley Trip

Abundant thanks to James Hill for organising this trip and the following photographs.




Presidents' Dinner 26 June 2019 at Aqua Dining

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25 May 2019 - COTY - James Hill

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6 September 2018 - Presidents' Dinner 2018

Thanks to James Hill for the photography.



4 August - Lunch at Courtney's Brasserie

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Special thanks to James Hill for this review

On a beautiful Sydney day fifteen members and guests were treated to a great lunch of fine seasonal food at Courtney's Brasserie in Parramatta.

Courtney's executive chef Paul Kuipers is well known to our Society having cooked many times in the past at the behest of society member John Goldsbrough.

Some chose to cruise up the river on a Sydney ferry with the added enjoyment of pre-made negroni cocktail provided by one enthusiastic member to get us in the mood.

It was a pleasure to be welcomed to Courtney's by Chef Paul Kuipers who organised a private room for us and members brought wine from their cellars, Some gems were spotted on the table and shared. David Gregory's famed muscat made an appearance with sufficient quantity to provide a bottle for consumption on the return journey on the rivercat.

As one member commented 'A great room, food, service and ambience' all made for a perfect day. Paul joined us after lunch Introducing his chef Jenny to talk us through the menu.

The verdict a great day and now to become an annual event!

28 July 2018 Chef of The Year 2017 Dinner

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Thanks to President Peter Kelso for the report on the dinner.

There are times when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and 2017’s Chef of the Year Dinner was one such time. We had over 60 members and guests in attendance, including the former Governor of NSW, Dame Marie Bashir, as a guest of Brian Sproule; we had some superb food from the 2016 winner, Steve Liebeskind, helped by Bill Alexiou-Hucker on canapes, John Banks pitching in on main course and Rachel Borm contributing to dessert; we had a fine cheese from James Healey and coffee of quality from Forsyth’s Coffee; and we had a terrific line-up of wines to complement the food, headed by no less than four fine burgundies, two in double magnums of 3 litres (four bottles) and two whites, all donated for the event by Ray Healey; as were six bottles of champagne by Charles (Chilly) Hargrave. And as if that weren’t enough, we had a great atmosphere of enjoyment and anticipation, culminating in the awards of Chef of the Year and winner of the Chris Alexiou Seafood Dish of the Year for 2017.

Canapes were brilliant: some braised octopus in a mascarpone sauce in pastry cases; some lovely taramasalata, served ditto; and a wonderfully rare sliver of roast beef with a delicate aioli on pumpernickel. All well complemented by a fine NV Bernard Bremont from Champagne, brisk and lively with lovely mousse.

The entrée, conceived in memory of late member Graham Fear who died at the end of 2017, was a “deconstructed seafood pie”, comprising said seafood (white fish and prawns) in a rich veloute sauce balanced by a piece of crunchy pastry to evoke the pie. Accompanying it were 2 of Ray’s wines, the 2014 Tyrrells Vat 1 Semillon, delicate and still a baby, and a 2010 Montgomery’s Hill Mulberry Block reserve Chardonnay from WA, rich and golden with stone fruit characters and refreshing acidity, as well as a 2012 Dom William Fevre Les Fourchaumes 1er cru Chablis from the Society’ cellar showing typical tangy minerality but a fairly short finish.

Main course ensued and more than maintained the standard, with lamb cooked two ways (an assemblage of shredded slow-cooked shoulder and a bright pink “log” of tenderloin redolent with aromas and taste from a spell of hot smoking) served with a nicely done purple carrot on a bed of pumpkin and kumera puree with slightly crunchy snap peas and a superior jus made on meat juices and stock. Fantastic with a choice of 2009 Nuits St Georges 1er cru from Jean Grivot, a 2009 Hospices de Beaune Clos de la Roche Grand Cru from Remoissenet, both the gift of Ray Healey, and a 2002 Ch Pontet-Canet from the Society. Although the Bordeaux was probably the best match with the food, who cares with wines of this distinction, complexity and length.

James Healey selected the fromage with a soft and luscious D’Affinois Blue, served with a vinaigrette salad containing pear and walnuts, were two more wines from Ray:a 2015 Romanee Les Barreaux from Cheron and a 2009 Clos de Vouguet Grand Cru from Drouhin-Laroze. Once again, beautiful examples of the grace and structure that is good burgundy, outclassing a 2008 Ornellaia Le Serre Nouveau, a Bordeaux-blend of grapes from Tuscany, Italy.

At this point, 2017 Foodmaster from 2017, Nick Reynolds took over to announce the awards, with trophies graciously presented by Dame Marie Bashir. Amid rolling drums, the awards were:

Runner-up for Chef of the Year: Steve Liebeskind

Winner of the 2017 Chef of the Year and also the Chris Alexiou Seafood Dish Trophy: James Hill

Finalists: Bill Alexiou-Hucker, Nigel Burton and David Madson.

The good things kept coming, with a sweet and sticky pecan tart served with baked pear, mascarpone and syrup which exploded in the mouth. As did a 1997 Ch Doisy- Vedrines from Barsac, unctuous but still fresh.

The evening finished with a good PNG coffee from Forsyth’s and a Bullers tawny port, a great example of the riches of Rutherglen and a fitting way to top off a memorable event.


15 July 2017 Chef of the Year - Steve Liebeskind




Our Chef of the Year dinner chef for the 2017 dinner was of course Steve Liebeskind, the winner of the 2016 award. He was assisted by Paul Irwin in the kitchen with Graham Fear and Paul Gibson also contributing. Cheeses by James Healey and of course coffee by Spencer Ferrier and Paul Ferman as Winemaster.

In the absence of the Foodmaster and President, our VP, Peter Kelso took control of the evening.

Above you will see the full menu for the dinner and indeed it was one that should not have been missed.

This was certainly a dinner not to be forgotten. From the three canapés to begin and an exquisite lightly smoked salmon in broth, followed by the beautifully prepared duck confit. The meal was a treat.

Many of us were aghast at the amount of time that those in the kitchen put into preparing this meal. The praise heaped on Steve and his assistants was indeed very genuine.

And finally, the winners were:

Chef of The Year - jointly Steve Liebeskind and Graham Fear

Alexiou seafood award: Steve Liebeskind

Well done.

Presidents' Dinner - Aqua - 4 May 2017

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23 September 2106 Lunch at Keith Tulloch Wines and Muse Kitchen. Chef Sean Townsend.

Wines tasted "Epogee" 2016,Semillon 2016, 2010, 2007, Tawarri Shiraz 2014, The Kester Shiraz 2014 and 2006,Botrytis Semillon 2015.


 Our next stop Mount Pleasant Pokolbin


Dinner at Hunters Quarter our Host Greg West from Agnews wines and Chef Brian Duncan at Hunters Quarter restaurant.

Wines of the night to begin Aubert et Fils Brut Champagne

2014 Tintilla Semillon 2014 Constable Chardonnay 2015 Tintilla  Chardonnay 2011 Lindeman's Semillon Bin 1155

2011 Thomas Braemore Semillon 2015 3 ponds Nero d'avola 2014 Audrey Wilkinson Tempranillo 2014 Whispering Brook Touriga Nacional

2014 Constable Shiraz 2014 Tintilla Shiraz 2010 Lindeman's Shiraz

2009 Constable Botrytis Semiilon 2006 Stanton and Kileen  Vintage Port


Friday 24th September Private bin tasting with Bruce Tyrrell Tyrrell's Wines Pokolbin


Our lunch stop was at McLeish Estate with a wine tasting hosted by Jessica McLeish, Chief winemaker at McLeish is Andrew Thomas.


 Our saturday evening function at Botanica Restaurant  with JK Walker lecture delivered by Bruce Tyrrell. 

Our hosts at Botanica Clare Bremerkamp and Chef Matthew Bremerkamp.Our society had guests for the dinner Andrew Spinaze (chief winemaker at Tyrrells) Nicole Spinaze, Bruce and Pauline Tyrrell, Don Francois and Dr Jana Jones.

Wines were sourced from Tyrrells

on arrival 2009 Tyrrell's Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2015 Tyrrell's Blanc de Blanc Chardonnay

Entree : 2005 Tyrrell's Vat 1 Semillon 2012 Tyrrell's Vat 47 Hunter Chardonnay

Main: 2007 and 2014 Tyrrell's Vat 9 Hunter Shiraz 2006 Tyrrell's Vat 8 Shiraz

Dessert : Dows late Bottled Vintage Port 



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The Society’s annual Chef of the Year dinner had an auspicious start with a full REX dining room of 64 members and guests and a beautiful evening. Our chefs for the evening were the well known duo of Gareth Evans and Ted Davis presenting a Spanish inspired menu. They were assisted in the canapé department by Peter Squires and Bill Alexoiu-Hucker.

Our President, Keith Steele, after opening the dinner handed over to our Food Master Nick Reynolds to run the proceedings.

The Awards. Congratulations tothe 2015 winners presented on the night.

$1·         Chef of the Year - Steve Liebeskind

$1·         Runners up - Bruce Thomas and James Hill

$1·         Best seafood meal of the year - Steve Liebeskind

Congratulations to all especially Steve to win the double gongs. Quite an achievement.

Also congratulations to all the numerous Chefs the Day in 2015 for taking the often nervous decision to cook us all a meal and await peer reception.

Canapés (or should we say tapas). We started with a range of canapés presented on four plate settings including:

$1·         Bacalao Croquetts (the photographer needed to be quick with these as the photo above shows hands diving for a sample)

$1·         Spanish Pickled Anchovy Boquerones

$1·         Taramasalata and humus with a range of toppings including octopus and dried meat.

The canapés were a real treat and much enjoyed with Aubert NV Champagne and Gonzales Byass Amontillado providing a great contrast. Later some members expressed their liking for the Champagne.

Entrée. We were treated to sautéed scallops with sauce romesco with sweet mustard, dill sauce and sea spray. The latter was new to some and it was explained as a coastal fern-like saltwater plant (Suaeda Australis if you must know). The scallops were just cooked with a slight char on the surface but wonderfully soft and succulent. Much liked.

With the entrée we imbibed:

$1·         Tyrrells Vat 47 Chardonnay 2006

$1·         Simmonet Febrve Chablis Montmains 2008

The Tyrrells was the better wine with the dish as it had a lovely tight oak mouthfeel and had the better of the somewhat fading 2008 Chablis.

Main course. Gareth and Ted gave us a beautifully presented chorizo and black pudding stuffed pork loin with membrillo sauce, white beans and an alicante stuffed tomato topped with pine nuts. The flavours were integrated and the dish was a visual delight. There was much conjuncture as to how the black pud and chorizo were inserted into the centre of the pork. Some suggestions cannot be repeated.

The accompanying wines were:

$1·         Embruix de Vall Llach Priorat 2006

$1·         Domaine Germain Beaune Les Teurons 1er Cru 1996

Two very good wines but the Priorat (favourite of many) had the depth and power to better match the dish if not somewhat overpower the 20 year old Burgundy premier cru. The latter was an elegant wine at the end of its drinking window.

Fromage. James Healey selected a semi hard Queso Iberico in theme from Spain. A mixture of cow, goat and sheep it had a full bodied and creamy flavour very much like a Manchego for which it is often mistaken.

Our busy Wine Master, Paul Ferman, served a wonderful foil to the cheese with:

$1·         Chateau Lanessan 2000

$1·         Lindemans Limestone Ridge 1993

This was an interesting pairing. The 2000 vintage in Bordeaux was excellent. Lanessan is now just a Haut-Médoc appellation but previously held a rating of Cru Bourgeois Supérieur, until this specific classification was removed. It did not open up as hoped but may need more time yet. The Limestone 1993 was judged by many as their top wine of the night. It was in wonderful form with (still) sweet fruit and a mature tannins to match. Almost nil bottle variation.

Dessert. Our chefs served a luscious Basque cherry tart with a teasing chocolate dipped strawberry as an accompaniment. Beautiful.

Two beautiful wines matched this with a Chateau Lamonthe Sauternes 1996 and a Lustau Pedro Ximinez or PX in wine slang. Both were wonderful and luscious in their own very different and special ways.  

Coffee and spirits. Coffee, not disclosed, followed with a white spirit, Mavrakis Tsinoupo. Possibly Russian, definitely high alcohol in the vodka style and definitely led to two camps of love and hate.

An evening much enjoyed.