Monday, November 10, 2014

Wollongong Kids Parties + Pretty Pamper Parties Giveaway

There are so many options in the Illawarra for awesome kids party entertainment, from venues who cater for the whole thing to entertainers who come to your house and keep the kids busy to outdoor sports parties. We have put together this blog post with some ideas for your next kids party. We are very thankful to Pretty Pamper Parties who have sponsored this blog post.


Pretty Pamper Parties
WIN a $250 Party Voucher!
Sarah is one of those infectiously happy people who loves kids! She is a big kid herself and just loves sharing her favourite things, dressing up, being creative and hosting parties. She will bring a sparkle to your child's party. Pretty pamper parties specialise in making your girls feels very special. Packages might include a hand spa, face masks, music, games even glitter tattoos.

Pretty Pamper Parties are also huge supporters of the community and regularly run Discos to support charities like the White Christmas Disco coming up on the 28th November 2014 supporting Barnados.

 Super Wrestling heroes Party
These guys are fun with a capital F! Get them in for a fully organised and themed party for your kids. From disco music to comedy, from fun and games to face painting, from heroes to villains, from young to old they will make your party the talk of the town.

Daniel Dwyer kids Parties  
Daniel is an incredible party entertainer, you can choose from one of nine characters from a pirate to superman. He will keep the kids busy with a funny magic show and lots of games and laughs. He will even do balloon bending and bring the music.

PlayBall Parties
Playball Parties are affordable and stress-free for parents. They keep the children active and entertained with structured age-appropriate games and activities.PlayBall is a great way to have an active and healthy party.

Dragonfly Parties
Dragonfly Parties
At Dragonfly all the staff have a background in performing arts or working with kids, they are passionate about making your child's day special. Characters, face painting and ballooning all available as well as fun games. Packages from $180.

There are some great venues in the Illawarra, from play centres to movies, bowling or even family friendly pubs. Here are some of the best.

Junior Groover Kids Disco Parties in Woonona Bulli RSL and Club Wingdang. This is a free weekly disco but they also run super cool evening disco parties!

Hoyts Warrawong 
Cost $19.95 per child
Great party package  includes, movie entry, a lolly bag, room hire and a free return movie ticket for every child. We had our daughters birthday party here this year and it was a huge hit.

Beaton Park Sports Centre
Hosting great kids parties based around an active theme, from Gymnastics party to sports alert and even a fun wet and wild pool party. $26 per child.

Jamberoo Action Park
For a huge party experience take the kids to Jamberoo. Parties include entry, lunch for the kids, a birthday cake, present for the birthday person and a souvenir photo. $56.90 per person.

Red Lemonade Events
Located in Helensburgh, this great party venue does themed parties and organises everything, you just need to bring the kids and a cake.  The frozen theme party is very popular.

Towradgi Beach Hotel
A venue that can entertain the kids and the mum's & dad's!
With packages for all ages, and tastes including Cooking Classes, Kids Disco's, Plaster Painting & more! 

Eight Fox Avenue Wollongong
From $75 per hour
Bubble soccer, for something a little unique hire out the hall and play bubble soccer. You have to watch the video to see the fun.
AMF Bowling Albion Park
19.90 per person
Includes one game, a kids meal, 2 arcade tokens and a party host.

Play Centres

Little Stompers Fairy Meadow
From $16.50 per child
Includes use of a private party room, unlimited play plus food and drinks for the kids. You can also do private hire which I highly recommend after hours!

Play Maze Albion Park
From $11.50 per child, private disco parties from $16 per head.
This includes the use of facilities, invitations, a private room and food.

Ready Set Play Albion Park
From $11.50 per child

Tiger Putt Putt and Little Tiges Play Centre
Enjoy both putt putt and a play centre in one. Parties include food and play. Phone 02 4257 9778 for

To Hire
Wollongong Jumping Castles
They don't only hire jumping castles but also photo booths, fairy floss machines, equipment to make snow cones, pop corn or slushies. 

Bubbling with Energy
Hire absolutely everything party related from these guys from bouncy castles, entertainment and even money machines, their hire list is extensive.

So here is the cool bit, the gorgeous people at Pretty Pamper Parties have given us a $250 voucher to enjoy their services to giveaway. It will close on Monday 24th November so get your entries in!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Burlesque hits Wollongong!

Next show is Friday the 3rd October 2014!

Burlesque was originally a term used to describe a type of comedic theatre which ridiculed more serious works. Later in the 1860's it developed into a term that referred to a comedy show that was often held in cabarets and clubs and involved a strip tease and scantily dressed woman. Burlesque was popular until about the 1940's when other style of dances and more dramatic sexy shows gained a following.

Bur Burlesque is back! It is seductive and tempting and paired with perfect food and wine! Yes Burlesque is at Seacliff Restaurant Wollongong as part of their fabulous themed dinner shows. Tomorrow night you too can be part of the awesome Burlesque show with a three course dinner and even a welcome cocktail!

Last month I headed out to Seacliff to check out what Burlesque was all about, to be honest I wasn't sure what it all meant. I was in for a treat! The MC for the night was Wollongong's very own Stu Macpherson who also runs the Wollongong Comedy club, he got the crowd laughing.

The first act was Charli who did a acrobatic burlesque act which was not only sexy but very skillful too! The crowd loved her, she was full of life and very flexible!  Charli also teaches at Circus Monoxide and does an amazing circus dance act to beautiful caberet music.

Aluminus website and photo credit
The Razzel Me Dazzel me girls came out second and wow the audience with their high energy and fun loving show. The girls are very warm and seductive but also great performers and such a pleasure to watch. They are a little cheeky and their costumes are incredible. Each dance has new outfits and different styles of dance. The audience really got into the show and their was even some audience dancing as people lost their inhibitions and had a really great night. The girls do three acts so there is no shortage of entertainment.

The way the dinner works is between each course there is a show, with ample to time to chat and enjoy your meal between acts. Food was fabulous as always. I had the Salt and pepper squid to start, wild barramundi for main and a chocolate tart for dessert, so good!

This is a night out that lots of people will love! It is definitely one for big groups or just couples looking for something fun to do. The crowd last month was diverse and fun! I love the themed dinner nights, so much more interesting that just dinner, give it a go and kick off your long weekend with a bang!

Next Show
Friday 3rd of October 7.30pm, doors open 7pm
$79 per person includes arrival cocktail, three course meal, tea & coffee.
Bookings essential PH: 42285410
Be Dazzled by the hypnotic grace of these beautiful creatures. Lights, camera, action!   Burlesque Themed Dance Show, Razzle Me, Dazzle Me. Love Me, Dream of Me.  Artistic Showgirl Cabaret & Hollywood Glamour meets the Las Vegas Showgirls. 
MC is the hilarious Stu McPhersonfrom Wollongong Comedy Club.  And a special guest performance by the acrobatic Charlie J presenting Dancer in the Dark.
A Story of Love, Mystery, Fantasy and Dreams.  A sexy show that will capture you from the beginning to end…  Filled with Comedy, Character and Class.
Click Here to see the girls in action

Sunday, September 21, 2014

School Holidays in the Illawarra September 2014

I can't believe that the school holidays are here again! I like to keep the kids busy and try out a new experience or two. These holidays I am going to take a day trip to Kiama to check out what everyone has been rraving about at Licked Gelateria, apparently the gelato is amazing! Make a day of it, check out the blowhole and grab fish and chips for lunch at the beach.

We kicked off the school holidays this weekend with a kids party at Hoyts Warrawong. It was such a great experience and good value too. $20 per child gives you a movie, popcorn, a drink, free use of the party room and a return movie ticket for all the kids, plus a couple of free adults tickets. We will be putting together a blog of all the great party venues and entertainers in the Illawarra, drop us an email if you know somewhere that should be included.

But let's kick off the school holiday activities.


There are some great movies showing these holidays and some great deals. Hoyts in Warrawong have $9.90 movies for everyone or 10 movies for $80 bargain! Greater Union has 5 tickets for $42.50 valid both at Wollongong and Shellharbour. Movie showing these holidays are:


Little Leonardos Kids School Holiday Art Classes
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 22, 2014 - October 03, 2014, 12:00AM
Join experienced artists who work alongside your children to help bring out their creative side these school holidays. The studio is designed to introduce the world of art to children in a fun filled and safe environment. Little LEONARDO's© Art Studio for kids School Holiday Art Program for children 5yrs and up More Info
Fun-Damentals School Holidays Sports Activities
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 22, 2014 - October 03, 2014, 12:00AM
Fun-Damentals provide school holiday activities for Primary school children in Wollongong. Activities are all based on Fundamental Movement Skills and we address at least 4 sports a day and cover sports such as AFL, Touch Football, Soccer, OzTag, Basketball, Hockey, Cricket, Softball/Teeball. Classes run during school hours every day of school holidays except public holidays. Parents can sign up for 1 or multiple days. More Info
Kids Activities in Wollongong Libraries
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 22, 2014 - October 03, 2014, 12:00AM
Get along to your local library these school holidays for some great entertainment! More Info
Kids Activities in the Library Shellharbour
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 22, 2014 - October 03, 2014, 12:00AM
There is heaps of stuff on this school holidays at your local Shellharbour library branch. More Info
Art Classes at Towradgi Beach Hotel
What: Kids  Where: Towradgi Beach Hotel   When: September 22, 2014 - October 03, 2014, 12:00AM
TBH is again keeping the kids entertained these school holidays! More Info
Mini Master Chef at Towradgi Beach Hotel
What: Kids  Where: Towradgi Beach Hotel   When: September 22, 2014 - October 03, 2014, 12:00AM
TBH is again keeping the kids entertained these school holidays! More Info
VEGEMITE SurfGroms Kids Surfing Lessons
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 22, 2014, 09:00AM - October 03, 2014, 03:00PM
VEGEMITE SurfGroms is offered under licence by Surfing Australia and aims to teach kids about surfing. It is a fun program that gets kids together promoting social awareness and co-ordination which continues into developing their surfing skills. They will also learn about the ocean through 5 different levels teaching them about beach safety, ocean awareness, basic surf rescue and a host of other topics. More Info
Indoor Rock Climbing Wall at Westfield Warrawong
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 22, 2014, 09:00AM - October 06, 2014, 05:30PM
Bring the kids along to our rock climbing wall at Warrawong for the school holidays. More Info
Toddler High Tea at Lagoon
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 22, 2014, 09:30AM - 11:30AM
Lagoon is hosting High Tea, without the fine bone china…. For parents, carers and their little ones. More Info
School Holiday Fun at Wollongong Botanical Gardens
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 22, 2014, 10:00AM - September 26, 2014, 01:00PM
The Wollongong Botanic Garden's school holiday program runs during every term break for five days. All the programs, and their interactive and hands-on activities, are planned around an environmental theme, and are focused on teaching kids about sustainability. More Info\

Mr Peabody and Sherman Activity Centre at Westfield Warrawong
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 22, 2014, 11:00AM - September 26, 2014, 02:00PM
Bring the kids along to the Mr Peabody & Sherman Activity Centre where they will be able to create their own take home world globe. More Info
Illawarra Light Railway - Miniature Trains
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 23, 2014, 11:00AM - 02:30PM
Miniature train rides for the whole family as well as the railway museum. More Info
Symbio Zoo School Holiday Fun at Dapto Mall
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 24, 2014, 11:00AM - September 26, 2014, 02:00PM
Keep the kids entertained with our FREE school holiday fun! More Info
Pete the Sheep
What: Kids  Where: Illawarra Performing Arts Centre   When: September 25, 2014 - September 26, 2014, 12:00AM
A quirky and deliciously Australian musical for kids More Info
Illawarra Light Railway - Miniature Trains
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 25, 2014, 11:00AM - 02:30PM
Miniature train rides for the whole family as well as the railway museum. More Info
Crazy Kids Show at the Shellharbour Club
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 25, 2014, 11:30AM - 12:30PM
...and they're free!

Do you dread the school holidays? Do you find it difficult to find inexpensive ways to entertain the kiddies? Not anymore!

Throughout the school holidays Shellharbour Club host free activities for the kids and this time around we've got some great ones!

More Info
Kids Disco at Dapto Leagues
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 26, 2014, 06:00PM - 09:00PM
Free Kids Disco at Dapto Leagues More Info
Illawarra Live Steamers
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 28, 2014, 10:30AM
The Illawarra Live Steamers is a non-profit organisation that operates a miniature (5") railway across from Stuart Park at North Wollongong, N.S.W., Australia. This is a fantastic family day out with each ride only costing $2. More Info
Ballon Bending School Holiday Fun at Dapto Mall
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 29, 2014, 11:00AM - October 03, 2014, 02:00PM
Keep the kids entertained with our FREE school holiday fun! More Info
Giant Block Building at Westfield Warrawong
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 29, 2014, 11:00AM - October 03, 2014, 02:00PM
Bring the kids along to the Mr Peabody & Sherman Activity Centre where they will be able to create their own take home world globe. More Info 
Dinosaur Excavation Holiday Activity at Figtree
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 30, 2014, 10:30AM - October 04, 2014, 01:30PM
Children are greeted by our enthusiastic paleontologists who will entice participants on a journey back in time, to discover bones and fossils from a pre-historic era! More Info
Illawarra Light Railway - Miniature Trains
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: September 30, 2014, 11:00AM - 02:30PM
Miniature train rides for the whole family as well as the railway museum. More Info
Illawarra Light Railway - Miniature Trains
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: October 02, 2014, 11:00AM - 02:30PM
Miniature train rides for the whole family as well as the railway museum. More Info
Wildlife encounters at the Shellharbour Club
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: October 02, 2014, 11:30AM - 12:30PM
Imagine how excited your children would be to come face to face with an American alligator, a colourful parrot or watch as a giant Burmese python, over 3m long, is lifted from his travelling box! Joins us for our Wild Animal Encounters and let your kids get up close and personal with animals they normally only ever see through wire mesh or glass at the zoo! This is the educational and fun (and free!) way for your kids to learn about animals from all around the world.
More Info
Crocodile Encounters at Dapto Leagues
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: October 03, 2014, 11:00AM - 12:00PM
Get up close and personal with snakes, Lizards, crocodiles and a few suprises! More Info
Kids Disco at Dapto Leagues
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: October 03, 2014, 06:00PM - 09:00PM
Free Kids Disco at Dapto Leagues More Info
Super Hero Wrestling School Holiday Disco
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: October 04, 2014, 05:00PM - 05:15PM
“Get excited and ready to party, as The Super Hero Wrestling Team and The Kidzwish Foundation make their return to The Dapto Ribbonwood Centre on the 28th of September from 4pm-6.15pm, and throw a Super School Holiday spectacular event like no other! More Info
Illawarra Light Railway - Miniature Trains
What: Kids  Where: All other Venues   When: October 05, 2014, 11:00AM - 04:00PM
Miniature train rides for the whole family as well as the railway museum. More Info 

Activities all school holidays long!
Hangdog Climbing GymHang Dog Indoor Rock Climbing
Enjoy the thrills of climbing for fun and fitness in the Illawarra's only purpose built indoor rock and boulder climbing gym. A great place for birthday parties, social groups, corporate groups and others to do something a bit different and a great alternative to weights or aerobics for those wanting a challenging work out. More Info

C1 Speed Indoor Electric Karting
What: Kids  Where: C1 Speed Indoor Karting
A purpose building indoor Karting centre with state of the art electric karts! More Info 

  1. AMF Bowling in Oak Flats - special offers 
  2. Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk (Read our Blog
  3. Symbio Wildlife Park open all school holidays 
  4. Nan Tien Temple (Read our Blog) Free
  5. Killalea State Forest  have an open BBQ fire and toast marshmallows! (Read our blog) {Free}
  6. Visit the Wollongong City Gallery - {Free}
  7. Go bush walking at Mount Keira (read our blog) {Free}
  8. All the public pools are now open with heated pools in Corrimal and Dapto! see a full listing 
  9. Oak Flats Roller Skating Rink   
  10. Northern Bowl, Ten Pin Bowling Corrimal $6 Tuesday
  11. Shellharbour Bowling games $6 between 9am -1pm in the school holidays
  12. FutureWorld Eco Technology Centre 10am - 4pm, Mon - Thurs
  13. Wollongong Science Centre {$8-$15} (read our blog)
  14. Rhododendron Gardens - gorgeous gardens for picnics and exploring!
  15. Wollongong Botanical Gardens has a great kids playground and beautiful grass areas for a picnic or stroll around the gardens. {Free}
  16. Jewellery and Beading Classes at Beadology in Corrimal {$15}
  17. Steam Trains at Thirlmere every Sunday {$25-$30}

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Psychic Dinner at Seacliff Restaurant

I am really excited that the psychic dinner is coming back to Seacliff this month! I have always been curious but also a little scared about psychics, did I want to know my future, would people think I was a little strange or would it be too intense? Well the lovely people at Seacliff have taken away all the mystery with a relaxed dinner style evening of readings and laughs. We went to the dinner in July and I was blown away by how accurate some of the readings were, and a little chat with Christine on the side made me realise that some people in my life were just were not going to move on.

The format of the dinner is informal and relaxed, with antipasto platters and a Bellini to start with so you can get to know the other people at your table. There is an MC, on the night I went it was Bianca Dye who is hilarious and warmed up the audience before the mains. Meals are served alternatively and I got the Barramundi which was delicious, hubby got the chicken breast! Christine hit the stage after the mains and entertained the crowd as well as doing plenty of readings.

Christine Rose is a renowned psychic and is regularly on TV and radio as well as presenting at Expos and private functions. She is great with an audience too and likes to have some laughs with the readings, some are serious, some are jovial. She works by getting people to ask her questions and she is guided by the spirits in how to answer them. Her time was light and fast as she moved through the audience, helping many people with the answers they sought. I was amazed at how accurate she was with the questions and answers, a little eerie. Christine was also lovely and I was lucky enough to share a table with her and get to ask all the tricky questions like "did her kids have the gift",Yes, all 6 of them! Or "if you are a psychic how come you got divorced, would you know in advance"? Her answer was, some relationships are part of the story, you need to live through them to get to the next stage.

After Christine read, the desserts were served, I ate the most delicious rich chocolate tart and a nice glass of wine to go with it. During the meals there is plenty of time to chat with the other guests on the table (tables of 10) After the plates are cleared, Lana got up to do some more readings.

Lana Jackson is quite different to Christine, she is a quiet, gentle lady, full of  insight. She uses the spirits as her guide and speaks to people in the room where the spirits send her. She does slower, more in depth readings. She is also on psychic TV and radio as well as running seminars to help people understand the other world and gain skills in the area of psychic development. She was very accurate in her readings on the night. Lana would be a very supportive person to see if I was going through a difficult period.

The night was so much fun and enlightening. I am not scared by psychics now and I find it all very interesting. The setting, food and service was fantastic as always, and everything ran seamlessly. I will say that although the audience is a predominantly female, there were a few guys so don't be scared of dragging along your partner, my husband had a great night. If you are interested in psychics but maybe not quite at the stage where you would like a private reading, the dinner is a great way to test the waters and see what you think in an informal way.

Tickets are available online for the October 30th Show, or by calling Seacliff on 4228 5410. I highly recommend the night!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Kindness in the Illawarra

Lately I have been struck by how many businesses are doing great things right here in the Illawarra. There are people and organisations donating time plus money to help others in the community. So I thought I would write a little blog about some of these great businesses, who do good things and some ideas on how we can spread some kindness, because research shows that when we are kind to others we become happier.

I would also urge people to visit those businesses who are making a difference in the Illawarra and help support them.

  • The Foundary in Wentworth Street Port Kembla
This a great initiative of the Salvation Army, the cafe is set up for people who want to get training in hospitality but can't get a foot in the door. The foundary offers a great place for people to learn and develop as well as a perfect place for coffee and something to eat. By buying your coffee here you might just be helping someone change their life. Open Tuesday to Friday from 7am to 3pm and Saturdays from 8am to 3pm.
  •  Three Chimneys - Wollongong
This cafe is trying really hard to work with the community in the Illawarra. In July it put up the price of all their coffees by 50c and matched it with their own donation. This amount was donated to help the homeless. They then went one step further to help directly by feeding the homeless a "lush" two course dinner every Tuesday night.

  • Alexanders Cafe Dapto
I nicknamed this place my happiness cafe a while ago because it is always full of smiles. They have suspended coffee, so if you ever have a few extra dollars by a coffee for someone else who really needs it. The also host charity nights with fashion, markets or even local business networking. It is all about the community.
  • Skin Correctives in Wollongong and Shellharbour
This great business does a lot of work for Autism in the area and help put together the Care and Share Day. This is an awesome day of indulgence for woman who care for someone with autism.

  • Haworth Music Centre Shellharbour
Glenn and the team are huge supporters of the local music scene, often donating time, equipment and finances to help the regions music industry. They also go into schools and try to help kids learn through music,  develop a healthy attitude, respect for themselves and others. The team is also a big supporter of Make-A-Wish foundation and regularly raises significant amounts of money to support this charity.
  • Lagoon Seafood Restaurant
These guys are always helping out in the community with raffle prizes, sponsoring local community events and even putting together night markets for micro businesses to display their goods to a great audience for free. Jonni is really passionate about community and connecting the small businesses of the Illawarra so that they can thrive and the Illawarra can be a place of individuality rather than just corporate giants.
  • Run Wollongong (19th October)
This is one of the best running events on the calendar, because unlike other events like City2Surf and the Color Run, who say "run for charity", you actually have raise your own money and the entry fee goes to the corporations running it. Run Wollongong is very different, with 100% of every registration going directly to Wollongong hospital! That is so awesome! Supported by the Cotton on Foundation, it's a great initiative.

These are all great businesses and events, which helps support the community right here in Wollongong. But you don't have to be a business to share the love, here are some way to spread the cheer both here in Wollongong and for family and friends out of the area.

Grab yourself some kindness cards (free) and use them! Buy someone a coffee, leave a dollar in the parking machines, tape a $5 note to a vending machine with a kind note and a kindness card.
  • Say Hi
As a society we seem to have lost the art of saying hi, I love when I am running early in the morning or in bad weather people always say hi, it seems happier people are up early. Bring back the small town feeling by saying hello when you walk past people.
  • Send Flowers
Image Credit
If you don't live close, send a bunch of flowers. I particularly like to send them to workplaces because it gives the recipient an extra self esteem boost that someone truly does care and think about them. There are lots of great florists online now that can deliver flowers with cheap flower delivery to Perth or Brisbane or even locally with a competitive price. Or if you are local, pick a bunch from your garden and hand deliver them.
  •  Write a thank you card
If you sit there for a while and think about how many great things have happened each week, you realise there are a lot of people in your life who made that happen. Send a card with a stamp to break up the bill cycle in someone mail box. Had great service somewhere, let their boss know with an email or phone call, encourage people to be great at their job.
  • Buy stuff from Kids
Buy chocolates, raffles tickets or stop at the lemonade stand. If you see kids making a positive go at life and trying to help others, support them. Building confidence in kids is so important and that little conversation and couple dollars you hand out might shape their life. Never under estimate the power of our youth! This also goes for small business, by buying their product, you are sending a positive message directly to the owner. I love to support stay at home mum businesses because they are raising their kids and helping their family in a positive way.

I would love to hear about other businesses that are spreading kindness in the Illawarra, or has someone been kind to you? Would love to hear all about it!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Celebrity Chef Scholarship Dinner - TAFE Illawarra

Last week I was invited to a degustation dinner cooked by apprentice chefs at  TAFE Illawarra,  Nowra Campus under the close guidance of celebrity Chef Colin Fassnidge. The TAFE has it's own in house restaurant, Destiny's which both cookery and event students work in for a real life practical hospitality experience. The celebrity chef dinner was started by Di Laver 12 years ago to give the rural students a chance to work with the finest chefs in the industry. Each year it has grown and this year, Colin guided the students in preparing an 8  course degustation meal with matching wines.

Live video feed into the kitchen
The dinner truly is a celebration of the community and the support of the industry. There are so many people involved in helping the TAFE students gain practical industry experience. From the free range pig farmer at porkery Hill, to the local vineyards. There are so many people involved in making not only the dinner a success but who continue to support  the restaurant and the students.

The students involved in preparing and delivering the dinner are vying  for the chance to win a very special scholarship. Each year the TAFE Illawarra, gives out two prizes to cookery students and one to an events student. The scholarship includes a week of fully supported and funded work experience at a top restaurant or event organisation and accommodation in Sydney. This gives rural students the opportunity to learn from the absolute best in the industry. After the dinner some students are chosen to put a submission forward to be considered for the scholarship, the teachers then shortlist the applicants and the final choice is made by the celebrity chef based on their performance during the dinner. This years winners, Emily Johnston and James Willoughby were presented on the night and both have promising careers in front of them. Natalie Ricetti won the Diploma of Events Scholarship.

On arrival, I was offered a glass of Wileys Creek Pinot Noir Chardonnay from these lovely ladies accompanied by some beautifully seared tuna canapes and ham terrine with apple sauce, what a perfect way to kick off the evening.

After nibbles and chats, we moved into the dining room which after recent renovations now seats 150 guests and it was a sold out event. The students certainly had their work cut out for them. The tables were beautifully set up, with polished glasses and artful decorations.

First course was a fish and citrus soup which was a perfect combination of flavours and one of my favourite dishes of the evening. It was served with a Coolangatta estate Semillion which was perfectly  cut through the sharpness of the anchovy and citrus.

Recently I chatted with the head chef  of Flanagans in Thirroul about degustations and how I don't always like every dish. He explained to me that degustation is more experimental so he didn't expect everyone to love every dish but overall enjoy the whole meal. That certainly took the pressure off me doing degustation and thinking that I had to like everything on the menu. It is a chance to taste things you wouldn't normally have, and gives the chef a chance to be creative.

Back to the food, second course was Petunia Ocean trout served with wasabi snow and vanilla cucumber accompanied by a crisp glass of Silos estate chardonnary. I wasn't a fan of the wasabi snow, something a little weird about flavoured ice with food but a pretty cool technique!

Third course was Crab Taco, they changed the plate up during the day as the ingredients on the original recipe were not available so in true chef style, they improvised and created a great new crab dish. It was served with a soft Pinot Gris from Marlborough NZ.

Fourth Course was corned beef with wagyu beef bresaola, nashi pear and buffalo curd, I loved this dish, it was the perfect combination of salty, sharp, sweet and creamy! The plating was also beautiful and this dish was a great hit at the table! Served with aMontrose Mudgee Pietra Sangiovese, one of my favourite reds.

Fifth course was one of Chef Colin Fassnidges  specialities, whole slow roasted suckling pig. I hope  I don't offend anyone with this photo, but the whole pig was slow roasted and nothing was wasted! It is so fantastic to see chefs like Colin teaching the apprentices how to use the whole animal and not waste anything! The pork was so tender and moist, served with some seasoned salt and lemon wedges, it was sensational! It was accompanied by a small glass of Addlestones Cloudy English Cider.

Feeling like a celebrity at the media hub!
Now I will be honest here, I was starting to get full! and there were still two courses to go!

Luckily it was cheese time with melted brie on sourdough and a caramelised onion accompanied by a Robert Oatley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dessert was chocolate delice a really rich light chocolate mousse with a small cornflake popsicle, cute and delicious.

At the end of a long night of indulgent food, wine and great service out comes an amazing dish of petit fours, I was too full to eat more than just one little piece of peanut brittle but it was so worth it!

I love that this restaurant is all about the students learning the trade in the most up to date and innovative way. I had a great time, the service was excellent with smiling people and great food. What an honour to be a guest at a table with chefs in the making. Destiny's restaurant is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays during term time and it is a great way to support students and the local industry.

Congratulation to the scholarship winners for this year who I am sure will go far in the industry. A huge congratulations also goes to Di Laver who has organised these Celebrity Chef Dinners for the last twelve years and will be sadly missed as she swaps teaching for retirement.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

{Review} Cooking Classes with Healthy Bites

When I was invited along to try out Sian's healthy cooking classes I was excited. These classes shared my passion for delicious food with the balance of eating well. I was interested to chat with an accredited dietician about what she thinks of food and of course learn to make some new healthy yummy dishes.

Sian watching everyone prepare food.
I love to cook, and eat..... therefore I need to be careful that I  feed my family nutritious food. As a long distance runner, getting the right nutrition in for optimal performance is really important to me, so any tips are welcome. Sian was great at answering all our questions, like which sugar is best or is there a difference between canned and dry beans.

The classes are set in the gorgeous Sandy Good Wich which is at the top end on Crown Street and has an incredible sandwich menu. I will be testing them out next week as it has amazing reviews. But that is just the setting and has absolutely nothing to do with the cooking classes.

Back to the classes! Each class has a theme, the one I did was based on a winter theme of fast food the next one is for busy professionals and how to fit nutritious food into your life.

During the class we set out to help cook four dishes, none of them were difficult but all them were very tasty and healthy. Sian also talked to us about how to make double batches and make different meals with the same base. The classes are interactive and everyone gets involved with chopping, zesting and blitzing. You also share a meals with everyone from all the things you cook over the night. We cooked the following dishes.
  • Lentil bites with lemon pesto served in pureed cauliflower
  • Chilli Beans with guacamole and roasted sweet potato
  • Apple and Blueberry crumble
  • Chia Date and Walnut Slice
All the dishes were delicious and I loved sitting down and chatting with the other participants of the class and Sian as we tucked into the 4 courses. Each dish was designed to be healthy, family friendly and accessable, there were no crazy ingredients that cost the earth.

Sians approach to her work is to help people make small changes in their lifestyle to better their health. She is sensible and talked about cutting your meat down and adding a tin of beans to make it a little healthier, swap potato mash occassionally for cauliflower mash, use lemon basil pesto rather than butter on your sandwich. This class is perfect for people wanting to learn some new recipes, meet a dietician and ask lots of questions, talk about seasonal food and how best to prepare them.

Even though the food is simple I learnt a lot, we discussed spices and how to use them to jazz up food, I learnt the right way to zest lemons and how to make a mashed cauliflower. There were lots of fresh flavours that I hadn't combined before and I have already used at home.

The next class is on 18th September and will be focused on busy professionals and will talk about getting some nutrious food into a hectiic lifestyle, I need this class too, book me in. The classes cost $55 and include dining on all the delcious dishes you make. For our class the apple and blueberry crumble was so good with a macadamia and oat top, yummy!

Sian is available to host cooking demonstrations at your event or work place, and also teaches private classes. She also runs a private clinic where she helps people achieve a healthy lifestyle and positive relationship with food, assists with food intolerances and gastrointestinal complaints and takes a sensible approach to weight loss. For more information phone Sian on 0401 332 864 or visit 

 Class Details Here


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