Monday, October 12, 2015

Pete Murray Returns to Wollongong with his 'Yours Acoustically' Tour

12 October 2015
by Leigh-Anne Wrighter

After the highly successful sold out ‘Feeler Anniversary’ tour with the Stone Masons in 2014, Pete Murray has hit the road again taking his intimate 'Yours Acoustically' tour around Australia.

Visiting 33 locations including every State - from Northern QLD to Launceston to Alice Springs and everywhere in between, Pete will be descending on our Wollongong shores for one night only on 20 November at Waves.

It's a night with Pete, his guitar and your favourite songs. 

This is the very first time Pete has performed an acoustic tour in Australia and from the reviews so far we are in for an amazing night that we will be talking about for years to come.

Pete Murray is a musician, keen surfer and a proud dad. I got to have a chat with Pete and what I discovered was that he is also just a typical salt of the earth Aussie bloke from the country. He just happens to be one hell of a musician!

You will be surprised by what inspires Pete Murray's songs and he has some great advice for aspiring artists. 

This is your first acoustic tour in Australia. What would you like the audience to take away from seeing the show?

Well this tour for me is all about giving back to the fans that have been supporting me over the last 10 years so I want them to feel like they are a part of the show and request any songs that they want to request. I just want them to have a good fun gig and for it to be a great memory for them. So that's what it is all about. I have had a few people say it’s the best gig they have been to.

Jeremy from Busby Marou will be joining you on this tour and you have worked together in the past. What is it about his style that you like?

Well he is such a great singer and great guitarist and musician. We did a group fishing trip up the Groot Islands in the Northern Territory a couple of years ago and we did this show up there for the locals just for taking us out fishing. We had Jeremy playing bass, I was playing acoustic and Tom Busby was doing harmony. Jeremy was doing harmony as well. I just couldn’t believe how well this guy could play bass and sing so well at the same time. So from that moment I said 'look you have to come and do a show with me', so a really talented guy.

Byron local Garrett Kato will be your support act on the tour. How do you pick your support acts?

It’s really what music I like. For me I just want an artist that can come on the road that the fans are going to like as well and they are loving Garrett at the moment. His been selling 50 CD’s a night at the gig and his just on fire.  Great feedback because I knew my fans would like his voice and his songs.

You have a new album scheduled for release in 2016. How would you describe the evolution of your sound having been in the industry for over 10 years now?

I think every album has a different flavour that’s for sure. I really want this album to have really nice sonics to it so it sounds nice and lush with great harmonies. Choruses people can sing along to and just songs that are powerful and people will really love over the years. I want this next album to be one that is around for a long time. In 30-40 years I want people to still be playing and talking about it. That’s what you want, you want it to mean something to someone.

Your songs have an emotional connection for so many in your audience. What do you attribute to this?

Lyrics are a big thing and maybe it’s just that I have my own style in the way I play the guitar and sing. It has its own flavour and maybe that adds to it.

Do you ever try to convey and personal beliefs or messages through your lyrics?

I don’t really set out to make anyone feel anything or hear something a certain way. I just do it in a way that I like. If I like it then other people will like it too.

You have your own recording studio in Byron Bay. Does the beach living have any influence on the new album?

I haven’t been sitting their writing songs looking at the view or anything like that. I find that the best place to write is just jumping into the bathroom.  You’ve got your tiled floors, everything sounds good. So I think it’s been more inspired by a bathroom than the beach.

How do you keep yourself grounded during a tour?

I was brought up in the country so for me it has never been an issue to be grounded with things. I had success in my 30’s. I think in your 20’s or even teenagers, if people have that success, you can definitely see that they really start believing they are better than other people, which is pretty embarrassing. Guys like Justin Beiber, his had that success since he was a teenager. I don’t think he thinks his a normal person anymore.  I didn’t have that. I had worked a lot in my 20’s and travelled a fair bit and I just experienced life. By the time 30 came around I had my first boy so I didn’t have any money so when I had some success I was grateful for it. It wasn’t just there. I had worked hard for it and I appreciate it.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment with regards to your music?

Just still having a career. I think that is the hardest thing. You see acts come and go. They will come and have a big album and then they just disappear and you won’t ever hear from them again. So that’s the hardest thing, the longevity in the music industry is a really difficult thing to do.

Do you have any one piece advice for aspiring artists?

I went to this music course by a company in Brisbane that looks after all QLD acts and artists. I remember going to one of their workshops when I was management for another band years ago and they said that there are three things that you need to be successful in the music industry and I’m sitting there with my pen out and I’m thinking ‘what are these three things?’ All you need is ‘persistence, persistence, persistence’.  I would say on top of persistence you need to have an understanding of how the music industry works and a little bit of an idea of how the business works. So many acts go into it and get ripped off and they don’t know any better.

You wrap up your tour in December. What will you be doing to unwind?

During the Christmas holidays I’m going to head over the Thailand for a bit of a break.

A follower asked if you would be available to marry them. Have you had any unusual proposals from a fan?

No I haven’t but I’ll look out for that one.

The fans in Wollongong are really look forward to your show on 20 November at Waves.

Wollongong has been a really successful spot for me around Australia. There are a few spots that you just get a really good fan base and Wollongong is definitely one of them. We have had some great shows there that have always sold out. This one’s going to be different. I think it’s going to be intimate and from what everyone is saying from the other shows, this is their favourite because I have never done this before in Australia. 

Pete Murray's 'Yours Acoustically' tour will be live at Waves on 20 November 2015. Visit for tickets. The Sydney show has SOLD OUT so get in quick!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Melbourne Cup Day in Wollongong 2015

I saw a post last week advertising last minute specials on a cruise ship that takes you from Sydney to Melbourne with tickets to the Melbourne Cup and home again. I was definitely tempted....... But since I am in Wollongong this Melbourne Cup Day and not traveling to the real deal in Melbourne I thought I would share some cool things to do on the day in the gong.

  1. All Inclusive Deals
There are lots of place that offer all inclusive packages for Melbourne Cup Day. Eat, drink and bet the afternoon away without worrying about the bill at the end. Some of my favourite locations putting on these events are;
  • Kembla Grange - lots of different packages from all inclusive to entry only.
  • Lagoon Restaurant $119 per head includes lunch and a 5 hour beverage package
  • Seacliff Restaurant $119 per head includes lunch and a 5 hour beverage package
  • Novotel Northbeach Buffet lunch and drinks package for 4 hours $109 per head 
  • Pepe's on the Beach includes canapes, drinks and entertainment all on the beach.
  • Humber Bar offers a classy 10 course canape package with drinks for $130 - $140 a head. 
  • Harbourfront Restaurant lunch and drink with a view $119 per head
  • The Meatery, one of my new favourites, I just love their breaky menu, it will be a sure winner over summer! They have packages from exclusive to more simple. All include lunch, TAB and drinks $90 - $250 per head.
2. Pick and Choose Packages
  • Kembla Grange again has packages where you can pay entry and buy food and drink as you please.
  • Char Char Bar and Grill has a three course lunch with the race televised for $49 a head, drinks are an additional charge. 
  • Oscars at Towradgi Beach Hotel have a buffet lunch with TAB facilities for $60 a head or upgrade with a full drinks package for $99.
  • Wollongong Golf Club $69 a head 2 course lunch with a glass of bubbles on arrival.

 3. Hair, Dress and Makeup

Let's face it Melbourne Cup is about more than just the horses, the fashion on the field is equally important. Grab yourself a pretty knee length dress, I love Forever New, Jam Clothing in the Mall, and of course the Northbeach Boutique inside Novotel which has some gorgeous dresses.

For a great makeup deal I choose either Napolean Perdis in David Jones and on the other side of the Mall or MAC in David Jones. Both offer free makeovers if you purchase around $100 worth of their products, book now though as they book out quickly on special days.

The perfect hairstyle is essential for an awesome Melbourne Cup Day read this blog post about our top 10 Illawarra Hairdressers! I love Michelle from Di'Va Hair or the girls at The Fox and Hair especially if you want a little extra glitter!

Alternatively if you are one of those people who loves a bet but doesn't enjoy horse racing, how about staying in, grabbing a couple of wines and spending your money on some online betting. Read more here about how to play casino games or pokies online for your Melbourne Cup Day flutter if you prefer not to support horse racing.

So I hope this little list helps you to plan your Melbourne Cup Day, let me know if you have any other ideas on what to this Melbourne Cup Day.

Written by Eleise

Monday, August 3, 2015

Local first-time filmmaker Rhiannon Bannenberg is elated that her feature film Ambrosia will premiere in her hometown of Wollongong before being released in cinemas nationally.

A reflection of Bannenberg's own personal struggles of growing up with chronic pain, Ambrosia is visually breathtaking having been filmed exclusively on our very own beaches with a cast and crew of Illawarra based rising talents.

Not only has 25 year-old Bannenberg achieved the amazing feat of writing, directing, scoring and filming Ambrosia but she also recently won the Special Jury Prize at the 2015 International Gulf of Naples Festival.

We had the pleasure of asking the filmmaker some revealing questions about the story behind Ambrosia and her inspiring journey so far.  

How has growing up in the Illawarra shaped who you are today?

Growing up in the Illawarra has given me a wonderful array of experiences and perspectives on life. Being surrounded by the beautiful and diverse natural environments such as beaches, dairy farms and rainforests, to our built environment that depicts Illawarra’s colonial and industrial history, growing up in the Illawarra has always given me a strong context to who I am and what is it means to have a ‘home’. I also think the diversity of the Illawarra’s landscape, community and history has shown me the value of a strong community and the importance of maintaining a sense of pride and connection to your local area.

Where did the idea for Ambrosia come from?

Whilst I was studying music at university, I began writing a character named India who is an outwardly healthy, energetic young woman, but suffers from chronic pain. I wanted her story to unravel as she was spending a beautiful, dreamy summer with her closet friends. It was from here that I began to develop the story and as it grew, I felt compelled to tell India’s story and film seemed the perfect medium to express these ideas in a rich, evocative way. I had a clear visual image in my head of how every scene should look and what the music should sound like from very early on.

Was there any one moment that ignited a spark in you to create Ambrosia?

I wanted the story of India and her experiences to take place in a slightly altered reality, one where there was an ambiguity of time and place. Once I began thinking about this, I knew the Illawarra was the perfect place to set the story. I was really driven to bring the characters to life in the very places I spent my own childhood, the beautiful Illawarra and make the film with a team of local, talented artists.

What were you aiming for when you started filming Ambrosia?

I’ve always known I was really lucky growing up in the Illawarra and I was excited set my story and characters against such a visually rich backdrop. I wanted to work together with my cast and crew to tell a sensitive and sometimes sombre story through beautiful and magical imagery, costume and music.

What emotions were you hoping to evoke in viewers and do you think you have achieved that?

Ambrosia has always been about subtlety and the invisible parts of our selves that lie beneath the surface. I never set out to tell the story in one particular way, but rather leave enough ambiguity for interpretation and space for peoples own experiences to shape their understanding and connection to the film.

Tell us a bit about the local people that contributed to the making of Ambrosia? How did you find them?

It was important that the cast and crew knew the Illawarra well because filming here was so much a part of the films tone and style. Once I had a draft script, I collaborated with actor/writer Elias Jamieson Brown to finalise the script, a process that took around 2 months. I then brought together a group of wonderfully talented young creatives to come on board as cast and crew, some I had met at school, others I knew through friends.

The main cast, Rebecca Montalit, Elias Jamieson Brown, Debbie Neilson, Natasha Velkova and Scott Lee were all living in the Wollongong and Southern Highlands area. Costume designer Stephanie Bannenberg, Hair & Make Up artist Alice Herraman, Sound Recordist Stuart Hope, Graphic Designer Christopher Anderson, Musicians Jane Aubourg, Sophie Hanlon and Timothy James Bowen were all local artists that were also good friends of mine.

I saw so much incredible talent and enthusiasm in these young artists that I was really excited to work with them on such an ambitious project.  Since making Ambrosia, they have all gone on to pursue their creative areas and I’m really excited to see what’s next for such a talented and inspiring group of young artists.

Filming the complete feature in the Illawarra, what were your major challenges?

The visual tapestry of the film was influenced heavily by my home environment and my own desire to find and be immersed in beautiful, haunting places. I wanted the story of India and her experiences to take place in a slightly altered reality, one where there was an ambiguity of time and place. I also wanted to bring the characters to life in the very places I spent my own childhood – the beautiful Illawarra on the South Coast of NSW. The only real challenge of shooting in the Illawarra was choosing from so many fantastic locations!

What did you learn along the way?

My initial point of reference for beginning this feature was taking my existing experience in creating and producing music and transferring that to the film medium. I felt many of the music production skills and desire to evoke emotions through music were relevant to the film making process. In terms of technical problem solving, I spent many hours learning from youtube tutorials and reading books from my local library. I tried to avoid becoming too overwhelmed with the scale of the project by continually focusing on each process and always referring back to my original aesthetic and tone for the film.

How much of your own character is reflected in the characters of your film?

The film is not autobiographical, but draws on incidents and experiences from my life, my circle of friends and my imagination. When I was 13, I had a horse-riding fall that left me with chronic pain. In Ambrosia, I felt it was very important to explore the themes of chronic pain with a subtle and sensitive tone. I wanted to keep India’s pain masked and invisible, an undercurrent that remained with her at all times.

What are you most proud of when you think of your accomplishments?

We recently held a pre-screening in Sydney through Pain Australia for their National Pain Week and I was overwhelmed by the response from the audience. I was moved by the sincerity and openness of audience members who came and spoke to me after the screening and how they connected to the story of India. I’m extremely proud of all the people who helped me make Ambrosia and for their constant support and commitment to the project.

I’m also very excited to be Premiering Ambrosia at our very own independent cinema, the Gala Cinema in Warrawong on the 8th of August.

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but that it may be your life and your living?

Music, cinematography and stories have been the centre of everything I have done and for me it is the ultimate combination to continue to explore the world around me and the people in it. I have always been excited and driven to work in the arts, but making Ambrosia has certainly solidified that decision to make film making a life long career choice - and life passion.

You work across a range of creative platforms. What is your main passion?  / Where do you see Ambrosia taking you?

Before I made Ambrosia and whilst at university, I released an album of original music called ‘Across This Ground’ under the name Anwen when I was 18 and was fairly well set on a career in music and performance. Making Ambrosia has offered me a broader canvas to explore and proved to be a wonderful experience that enriched and challenged many aspects of my creative and technical ability.

I am particularly thrilled that the work of the cast and crew is being recognized because collaborating with such an energetic and passionate group of people has been inspiring. The film has also put me in contact with some very generous and creative powerhouses like Shane Burrell from Final Post, Producer Steve Jaggi, and Danny Lachevre and Walter Bienz from The Solid State. I am very grateful for their advice and expertise and am excited to work with them again.

What are your goals from here?

Music, cinematography and stories have been the centre of everything I have done and for me it is the ultimate combination to continue to explore the world around me and the people in it.  Since Ambrosia I have worked as cinematographer on several feature films and am currently finalizing the script for my next feature, hoping to commence principal photography before the end of the year. 

With a story of physical and inner turmoil you will be captivated by this extraordinary achievement. 

Ambrosia will make its debut premiere right here at Gala Cinemas Warrawong on Saturday, 8 August.

This special presentation will feature an intimate Q&A with the director and cast about the making of this personal film set in the Illawarra region in NSW.

For more information visit FanForce or reserve your seats today via

Monday, July 13, 2015

Written by Leigh-Anne Wrighter

The Hungry Wolf - Crown Street, Wollongong

When you walk into the Hungry Wolf, little brother to Wollongong's whiskey bar Howlin Wolf, you feel like you've discovered the ultimate gem. It is where you would want to go to spend time with good friends.

Maybe it's the ultra cool and friendly bar staff who ooze knowledge on all things liquid or it's the chilled out atmosphere that invites good vibe conversation but the one thing that pulls it all together is the food! It will keep you coming back again and again. I mean if I ever go missing - this is where i'll be. 

Serving up a mix of American-style eats and Asian fare, once I set eyes on the the beef brisket and Korean fried chicken, the Howlin Wolf had won me over. Let's just say my taste buds were having a party and they didn't want to leave.

I had the chance to ask Chefs Johnny and Angus a couple of questions about themselves and the style of food they bring to the Hungry Wolf.

Tell us a bit about yourself, where you have come from, where you have worked previously, how you come to be at Hungry Wolf.

Johnny: My name is Johnny, I moved to Sydney to do my apprenticeship and when I got qualified I felt like moving back to Wollongong and applying what I learned at places like Fratelli’s Fresh and White Horse in Surrey Hills. I helped to start up a venue in town called The Three Chimneys and recently moved to a bar called Pepe’s at North Beach. That brings me to where I am now.

Angus: I’ve been cooking for a few years now, anyone that knows me can attest to my love for food. I was lucky enough to have a great head chef and role model in Joshua Marks for the duration of my apprenticeship at La Cucina. I learned a lot of my good habits in the kitchen from the time I spent there. I also worked at the Chifley Hotel and The Three Chimneys, which is where I met Johnny.

What was the inspiration behind the Hungry Wolf menu?

Angus: The menu that we’ve written is all about bold flavours that come from Texas style BBQ mixed up with flavour combinations, ingredients and techniques that have come from our combined experiences as chefs and our own food passions.

Johnny: Fast, with a focus on quality and freshness.

How would you describe your style of cooking?

Johnny: Versatile, I’ve worked in a variety of venues which had different demands on me as a chef, which has given me a broad range of experience.

Angus: I like to emphasize the flavours of the ingredients that I’m working with. I have quite a heavy Italian and French influence in my cooking.

Do you have a signature dish?

Angus: For me the ramen is something that I love. It’s hearty and comforting and is perfect for lunch or dinner during winter. I remember during the time I spent in South Korea my host mother would cook us ramen with an egg poached in the broth.

Johnny: Fried Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella (An American play on a caprese salad).

What is your favourite ingredient?

Johnny: Mushrooms

Angus: I have to agree with Johnny here, mushrooms are fantastic, they are so versatile and full of flavor. On top of their versatility they also have such a wide range of flavours and varieties. You can just do so much with them.
What ingredient can you not live without in the Hungry Wolf kitchen?

Johnny: Vinegars, from mayos and dressings to pickling.

Angus: Herbs. We use a variety of herbs in every dish that we cook. They provide so much flavour and help to emphasize the natural flavours of other ingredients.

What would be your last request dish?

Angus: It’s funny, this question seems like it’d be an obvious or easy choice but for me, but having to choose one meal out of so many possibilities is not easy. I don’t even want to face the prospect of having to choose a last meal. To be honest at the moment I’d probably choose a traditional shoyu ramen with hand made noodles but if you ask me in a few months I will have changed my mind, and I’ll be passionate about something else.

Johnny: Beef Stroganoff

What do you love about the bar/café scene in Wollongong?

Johnny: Watching it grow over the last couple of years and the sense of community between the venues.

Angus: I think that the Café/Bar scene in Wollongong has so much potential and since I started working here I have found that the scene has consistently grown and flourished.

What is your idea of happiness?
Johnny: Sunday arvos, Beers, Mates and occasional Waves.

Angus: Spending time with my friends, my girlfriend and my family. Preferably while having a good meal.

How do your meals compliment what’s on offer from Hungry Wolf’s big brother Howlin’ Wolf?

Johnny: The American style food we do complements the aesthetic and the back shelf of the bar.

Angus: The general theme of the food that we do, especially at dinner complements the bars fantastic selection of whiskeys.

The Hungry Wolf
53-61 Crown Street
Wollongong NSW 2500

Telephone: 0417 265 272

Open for lunch 11am-3pm Monday to Saturday, dinner from 5pm-9pm Wednesday to Sunday.

Visit Hungry Wolf on Facebook.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Interview by Leigh-Anne @ What's on in Wollongong

South Coast local Ryan North took out the award for Photography in the 3rd Annual Wollongong RAWards earlier this year.

Looking at Ryan's extraordinary images it is hard to believe he is only 16 years old. Ryan took some time out to answer some questions about his photography and to give us an insight into his passions.

Remember this name people - Ryan is on his way to big things!

Follow Ryan on Instagram @ryannorthphoto, visit, or click here to follow Ryan North Photography on Facebook.

Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m a 16 year old keen adventurer and artist. I love to surf and enjoy the water in every way. I’m always driven to learn and discover new things – whether that be academic or discovering new places and new experiences. My passion for photography comes from my love and respect of nature.

How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography fresh?
It’s a good feeling to discover new things (or moments) that no-one could have found before, and I am always keen to search for those moments. It’s not hard to be motivated! 

Favourite two photos you have taken recently?
Green Cascade, Coastal Fog 

Do you specialise?
I don't aim to specialise in any particular subject, but the ocean always take my eye.

Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
Chris Burkard is definitely a strong inspiration to me, his lifestyle seems very inviting. Surfing, shooting, adventuring and getting paid for it! Other than the great surf/adventure photographers, nature itself inspires me to learn more and more about the world, and beyond.

What’s the best part of being a photographer?
The best part of being a photographer is seeing things that no-one else can see. You are instinctively trained to look at the beauty in nature, even when your camera is packed away.

How long have you been a photographer?
I bought my DSLR 2 years ago and haven’t stopped photographing since!

The hardest part of your job?
4:30am wake ups in the middle of Summer to catch sunrise (although it is fun).

The easiest part of your job?
Sharing my work is so easy compared to photographers that never had social media. It’s as easy as pressing a few buttons.

What type of cameras do you shoot with?
I mainly shoot with the Nikon D3200, an entry level DSLR. I also have multiple old film cameras that I sometimes will take with me just for personal work.

What is your favourite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?
Wouldn’t say I have one, unless good music counts!

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
That’s tough, I love a good wide-angle shot but also close up detail. I’d have to say the Nikon 12-24mm f/4, I haven’t used it, but I imagine it would be really good.

What is your most used Photoshop tool, action set, plug-in etc.?
I don’t use Photoshop, only Lightroom, but my most used tool is the angle straightener (shh).

What advice do you have for photographers just starting out?
Shoot for yourself and no one else, shoot what you love. Be very critical of your own work and accept all constructive criticism from others to help you grow.

Biggest challenge
Finding a market for art/photography, selling work.

Do you make time for personal photographic work? If so, what do you enjoy photographing and do you have an image you can share with us?
On the occasion I take out an old Nikonos film camera (which is water proof) in the surf and get a few shots. It’s personal as it’s hard to print and share film, so I generally keep it to myself. I’ve attached a film shot of my home beach.

Did you go to school to study photography?
Nope, I have done a few years of basic art but otherwise I am self taught.

How would you describe your style?
I think I have a natural style with natural editing, maybe towards to abstract side of things in terms of execution. I like to capture moments that are nice, that give the viewer a nice, comfortable, calm feeling.

What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such amazing imagery?
I just love exploring the environment around me, it is the inspiration. I could on a hike with no preconceived ideas and come home with a few unique images. Sometimes I’ll get a okay shot, and I’ll return to perfect it.

What has been your most memorable assignment and why?
Ah there’s so many! I’ll never forget one night in Jindabyne, out taking photos of the stars with a mate, I discovered that a pack of wild brumbies were charging! We both ran and climbed a tree to get out of the way. The brumbies kept running and we were safe to take more photos.

What would your dream assignment be?
Travel to somewhere extreme like Antarctica or Iceland, somewhere cold and crazy.

The first photographer that comes to your mind and why?
There’s way too many! Chris Burkard, Mark McInnis, Daniel Kordan, William Patino, Chris Wiewiora. With my Facebook and Instagram full of high quality photos it’s hard to pick one.

If not a photographer, what would you have been?
Artist, woodworker, musician maybe. Anything where I can create.

If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous who would it be?
The Dalai Lama.

Something you’re still learning?
How to find a larger audience.

All photos were used with the permission of Ryan North Photography. Photos used in this interview are the property of Ryan North Photography and are not to be duplicated in any way without prior permission from Ryan North.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Big Kids in the Kitchen at the Chifley Hotel, Wollongong

Written by Leigh-Anne @ What's on in Wollongong
Food, food, food. We all love it, we all need it.....but do we all know how to cook it? Do you ever find yourself at a restaurant or friend's place for dinner and wonder how they manage to make everything look, smell and taste so good?

Do you feel that unbelievable pressure when your having dinner guests over to live up to restaurant quality standards with all the ease of a duck to water? Well you are not alone.

I have often wondered if it was some secret society of foodies who gathered together in the moonlight to exchange their knowledge and keep the rest of us in the dark cooking our tinned baked beans on toast.

Lucky for me I was to find out otherwise! When I was invited to attend the Chifley Hotel, Wollongong for one of their Big Kids in the Kitchen series of cooking classes I immediately said yes! At last I was going to be privy to the secrets of preparing a meal fit for a king.

The class I was attending was entitled 'My Kitchen Rules' and was aimed at beginners wanting to know the basics of the kitchen. It would include techniques and information on knife skills, buying food and ingredients, fundamentals of cooking sauces, meat, pasta and little tricks of the trade. I was intrigued to say the least.

On arrival at the Chifley Hotel, Wollongong I was shown in to a private room where I was to meet my fellow foodies for the day. Much to my delight there were several attendees who were regular 'Big Kids in the Kitchen' attendees. They had not only attended many of the classes on offer in previous years but they had also attended many classes more than once. There reasons were simple - they had fun!

After a refreshing breakfast juice it was straight into the Chifley commercial kitchen with Head Chef Peter for some interactive discussions and demonstrations. Firstly, let me just say that a commercial kitchen is impressive! I found it fascinating to see where the food is actually prepared. It is definitely a 'well oiled machine' that keeps a top quality restaurant running. You gain an appreciation for how and where your food is prepared.

Chef Peter introduced us to cooking products and food I didn't even know was possible for a home cook to use. I mean I have seen these products listed on a menu and they all sound and taste so good but it didn't even cross my mind that I could use them in my own kitchen. Smoked sea salt, liquid smoke, micro herbs and truffle salt were now quickly becoming a part of my shopping list. Best of all I now know how to use them.

We then moved on to how to make our own sauces from scratch. Now for me this has always seemed like an enormous task but not anymore. Once you know how to do it and what to add it's only a matter of minutes before you have a delicious pesto, fish sauce and even gravy. No more bottle sauces served at my table!

Moving on to the secret of the perfect pork crackle - yum. Who hasn't spent absolute hours trying to get that perfect crackle up only to be bitterly disappointed. Those days are now gone for me thanks to Big Kids in the Kitchen. Of course I would love to tell you the secret.......but then it wouldn't be a secret! You will have to visit Chef Pete for that answer.

I always get confused when I go to the butchers with the varying cuts of meat and remembering which cuts to use in which circumstances depending on what you are cooking.

And just how do you tell if what you are buying the freshest meat you can get. Chef Peter was able to show us all how to discern by the colour of a cut of meat as to how fresh it may be and how to pick the best cut for a magnificent end result. I am certainly looking at my cuts of meat a bit differently in the weekly visit to the butchers.

We finished things off with a pasta demonstration including an easy pasta dough and how to cut or make the various pasta shapes. A great big bowl of fresh pasta is the best comfort food and so simple to make.

The time in the kitchen had come to an end but I was walking away with a feeling of renewed confidence and a bursting desire to get home and cook up a storm in my own kitchen. I found the kitchen experience completely interactive with time for questions and answers and some highly enjoyable tales from Chef Peter.

Back into the dining room and we were treated to a demonstration on how to make Sangria. It is honestly the easiest thing to put together and absolutely delicious. Perfect for dinner parties or when you have guests over. It will truly impress.

It was time for lunch! We were served with a mouthwatering fish meal complete with accompanying wine and of course the Sangria. I was in heaven. It was without a doubt a absolutely delicious and totally went above my expectations. The conversation around the table of relative strangers flowed and quite honestly it felt like we were old friends sitting around the table for a catch up.

 I couldn't imagine things getting any better but I was so wrong. Out came the salted caramel slice. Absolutely to die for. I have to admit that I had 3 pieces with one (or three!) on the way out the door. I could eat that for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Big Kids in the Kitchen series runs throughout the year and offers a variety of classes including Chocolate Appreciation, Take me on a Journey to Italy and so much more! Click here for a full list.

Discuss, ask questions, get involved and learn with a passionate professional but most of all have fun! Whether you do it solo, with a friend or in a small group you will not be disappointed.

Big Kids in the Kitchen Series - $65* per person. Includes: Talk, interactive demonstration, recipes, grazing and beverage.

For bookings call 02 4201 2111 or email:
Classes fill fast so don't delay and book today.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sydney Royal Easter Show 2015 {Ticket giveaway}

Written by Leigh-Anne Wrighter

I love going to events with my children that return me to my own fond childhood memories.

This is exactly what the Sydney Royal Easter Show does for me. From the anticipation as you are approaching the entry gates, to the sight of the bright lights, the shrills of laughter and the smell of 'country in the city' as you enter the agricultural displays, you can't help but remember the fun and excitement that never fails at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.  I know I have two very excited people in my house ready to go...and I am not talking about the kids!

The Sydney Royal Easter Show will run at the Sydney Showground at Olympic Park from 26 March - 8 April this year.  Attracting more people than any other event in Australia this is the ultimate family fun day out.

With iconic events such as the Wimbledon of wood chopping and the 'best of the best' in Australian Agriculture with over 12,500 world class Sydney Royal competitions, there are also over 10,000 animals to admire, over 300 show bags bursting with treats and fun, over 100 games and rides, an absolute abundance of entertainment including some action packed evening entertainment, displays, food...the list goes on. 

It's all about having FUN and that's exactly what myself and the family plan to do!

You can save time and money when you purchase a ShowLink ticket and Show e-Vouchers online from now until the end of the Show.

Earlybird discounted tickets and offers are available until 16 March so make sure you book so you can spend your savings at the Show!

ShowLink tickets provide you with a ride to the Show via TransportNSW so you can leave the car at home and don't forget you can also pre-purchase carnival ride E-vouchers. You could save up to 20% just by pre-purchasing up until 25 March.

When you are ready to sit back and relax be sure to visit the Sydney Royal Beer & Wine Garden where you can experience medal-winning beer, wine and cider.

It is a full day so make sure you pack a hat and sunscreen and visit the Sydney Royal Easter Show page or follow the official Easter Show Facebook page to be kept up to date with the latest information.

From 26 March to 8 April, the Show will bring the best of the country to the heart of the city; celebrating excellence in Australian agriculture and showcasing the heroes and characters that bring this iconic event to life.

For your chance to win one of two double passes up for grabs simply tell us what you are looking forward to the most at this year's Show?

Winners will be drawn on 19 March, announced on the What's on in Wollongong Facebook page and contacted via email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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