CoTY Dinner 24 June 2022

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Food review by James Hill and wine review by Stephen O'Halloran

After a two-year hiatus, we returned to the Royal Exchange Club for what many consider to be our premiere night the “Chef of the Year” awards.

Contenders for the 2021 award were Haley Epstein, James Hill, Peter Kelso, Merv Peacock, Nick Reynolds, and Steve Sparkes.

Nick Reynolds was named Chef of The Year as voted by members for his dish of homemade fish sausage served with beurre blanc with scallop, prawn, butter-glazed snow peas, forty layered potato pavé with crème fraîche and Beluga caviar. He was also awarded the Chris Alexiou award for the best seafood. Having now won both awards three times, he announced that while he will still cook lunches for our Society he will cease being a competitor for these awards.

Lynnette MacDonald joined us for the evening, she has donated a trophy in memory of our long-standing member and Cheese Master Ross MacDonald. The trophy awarded for the best accompaniment to a cheese course was won by Gary Linnane for his raisin/sultana mix that had been marinated in a 20-year-old Yalumba Museum Muscat.

A special thanks was made by our Food Master to all our members who cook during the year.

James Hill, Steve Leibeskind and Nick Reynolds were our chefs on the evening with wine presented by our Cellar master Chilly Hargrave.

Chef’s notes on food.

Canapés - James Hill

Bacon and three-cheese gougères. These we made by Lynnette MacDonald and the filling was Parmesan, Cheddar and Gruyère finished with a light dusting of bacon powder.

Sweet school prawns on rice crackers with Marie Rose sauce and lettuce.

Tartufata and goat’s curd served in pastry cups. Tartufata is a truffle and mushroom paste with a combination of black truffles, mushrooms, black olives, anchovies and extra virgin olive oil.

Entree - Steve Liebeskind

Confit salmon with herb beurre blanc, tarragon, chives, parsley, fried capers and finger lime topped with crispy salmon skin.

Main - Nick Reynolds

Duck three ways. The three components were confit duck Maryland served on a bed of puy lentils garnished with diced carrots and potatoes with a red wine and duck jelly sauce; hand-rolled duck spring roll (confit duck, carrots, green onions, enoki mushrooms and Peking duck sauce); and green salad spritzed with balsamic vinegar with a 62.5C sous-vide cooked duck egg providing the fat for the dressing. 

Cheese - Gary Linnane

Tonight’s cheese was Beaufort a cow’s milk hard cheese from France. This is a naturally rinded cheese from the European Alps traditionally made in 45kg wheels and is one of the largest cheeses is made in the world. The cheese is made from late spring or summer milk, this is when the best cheese comes from cows that have ascended into the rich mountain pastures.

The close concentrated creamy texture and nutty, slightly sweet long flavours are typical is rare cheese.

Served with the Society's favourite bread, Iggy’s sourdough.

Dessert - James Hill

Citrus tart with Cointreau-macerated blueberries and a lemon basil sherbet.

The Wine

Bernard Brémont Brut NV Champagne

Tyrrell's Wines 2005 Vat 1 Semillon

Tyrrell's Wines 2015 Vat 1 Semillon

Christian Moreau 2018 Chablis Vaillon Cuvee Guy Moreau 1er Cru

Domaine Christian Clerget 2010 Echezeaux Grand Cru

Domaine Georges Lignier et Fils 2012 Clos-Saint-Denis Grand Cru

Château La Dominique 2010 Grand Cru Classe, St-Emilion 

Houghton 2008 Gladstones Cabernet Sauvignon

Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2003 1er Cru Classe, Sauternes


The evening got off to a flying start with a Bernard Bremont Champagne from Ambonnay in the  Champagne region. A highly regarded boutique producer.  Developed colour and flavour with fine tiny bubbles. Most enjoyable. Mainly Pinot Noir.

The Tyrrells Semillons both Vat 1 2005 and 2015

Both great wines. The 05 has become a legend in its own lifetime. Regarded by Tyrrells as one of their greatest Vat 1’s. 11.6 % and drinking superbly even at 17 yo. No fading, no browning, fresh and destined for a long life. A real example of what quality Semillon can produce in terms of Lanolin and bees wax overtones.  An Australian Classic.

 The 2015 was a terrific wine, 11% and 7 yo.  Lots of time ahead and may even in time, finish up like the 05.  Suffered a little by comparison to the 05.  “ Batting after Bradman “ they used to say.

The next white wine was the well-regarded Chablis by Moreau a 1er Cru 2018. Year rated 7/9.  14%. Flint, gravel and steely overtones. Upon tasting the wine I was instantly taken back to a seaside town in France with a plate of Bay of Biscay oysters. A perfect pairing.

Red Burgundy

Christian Clerget Echezeaux Grand Cru 2010. 14%. Year rated 8/10

The first of two examples of why Pinot Noir from Burgundy is accorded almost Divine Status. The second was a Clos Saint-Denis  Grand Cru from 2012. 14%  year rated 8/9.

Both wines drank beautifully, velvety,  smooth, deep power of quality PN. Seductive aromas. At the end of the process of comparison, I came to the view by a narrow margin, that my preference was the  Clos Saint-Denis.

I felt that the Echezeaux had better structures, but the Saint-Denis had a more appealing finish. Possibly the result of a bit of fading by a  12 yo wine. Others may well hold a different view   It is however when all said and done a privilege to enjoy these wines from vineyards the size of postage stamps and prices that resemble postcodes!


We were treated to a glorious Merlot from the Right Bank, a Chateau La Dominique from St Emilion. This vineyard sits right next to the famous Cheval Blanc vineyard, so it ought to be a cracker, and it was! 86 % Merlot and a bit of Cab Franc, and an eye dropper of Cabernet. Big wine  14.5 % powerful wine, lots of time ahead, superb rich, plummy merlot flavours. Thank you Wine Master.


A superb 2008 Cabernet from Houghtons was on show.  The Gladstones MR Cabernet is right up there with their other top wine, the Jack Mann.  The wine was named after the renowned Dr John Gladstones from the WA Dept of Agriculture,  whose tireless work in the 1960s led to the establishment of grape growing in Margaret River.  This wine was impressive. Huge fruit, mint overtones, but in balance. For those who like their MR Cabernets, this wine is for you.


To finish up we were treated to a luscious 2003 La Faurie  Peyraguey. Superb. Some say this Sauterne is considered by some as being a genuine challenger to Ch D’yquem.   Tell them they’re dreaming would be my response!   Nonetheless, a great way to finish the evening with a quality stickie and a fruit tart.

Many thanks to those who put the evening together. These events do not happen by accident.   SOH.

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