Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Ahead of Hunter Culinary Association Annual Food Fight | 28 Jun

The annual Hunter Culinary Food Fight is just around the corner, and this year’s line-up is as impressive as ever.

Chefs Mitchell Beswick (Muse Restaurant), Sam Alexander (Yellow Billy Restaurant), Andrew Wandless (Una Más - Coogee Pavilion), and Alex Prichard (Icebergs Dining Room and Bar) will go head-to-head in the kitchen.

hunter culinary association food fight

Undoubtedly one of the best days out in the Hunter Valley, with more than 200 people expected to attend the competition is fierce and the atmosphere is buzzing.

Hosted once again by Colin Fassnidge and Matt Kemp, who are long-time supporters of the Hunter Culinary Association, HCA Chairman Gus Maher said,

“Each of these talented chefs has earned their stripes at some of the world’s most prestigious Michelin-starred and hatted restaurants, so guests will be dining at an incredibly high standard.”

Date: Monday 28 June 2021 
Time: 11am 
Location: Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, Pokolbin. 
Cost: $175 for HCA members, $195 for non-members, and $90 for apprentice chefs Bookings: mail@hunterculinary.com.au 
More info: hunterculinaryassociation.com.au

We caught up with team Hunter Valley to get some insights into their preparation and took a closer look into the resumes of these two outstanding chefs.

Q. This is the first time being involved as chefs in the Food Fight, are you both fully prepared for what is going to be a pretty hectic day?

Sam: This is my first time involved as a chef cooking at the Food Fight, my team and I have prepared for the upcoming event trialing and tasting my dish to perfection.

Mitchell: This will be my first time as one of the main chefs involved, but I have been involved helping out in a previous food fight, so I think I will be pretty well prepared for the day.

Q. What are you expecting to be your biggest challenge at the Food Fight?

Sam: Being the underdog, I’m the only owner/operator going up against high-level well-renowned chefs in our industry. Preparing and executing the Yellow Billy ethos.

Mitchell: Making sure my dish is executed seamlessly on the day, and the guests receive it as I would have intended them to enjoy it.

hunter culinary association food fight

Q. Do you both have your dishes prepared already? Any hints as to what we can expect?

Sam: Expect the unexpected and big flavour profiles to carry through the courses. Test, prepare, taste, repeat. 

Mitchell: Having already done a number of large events and functions through my years of being a chef, I have learnt from past mistakes. From practising and trialling the dish in advance, I think everyone can expect a fun-filled day with some beautiful and delicious food.

Q. Does preparing a dish for the Food Fight differ greatly from dish preparation within a restaurant such as Yellowbilly or Muse?

Sam: Nothing changes for what we strive to achieve big events or little, my team and I have got this.

Mitchell: Yes and no, there is the key factor of creating a dish that people will enjoy, to be seasonal, look beautiful on a plate, show technique, and leave them wanting more. The main difference would be in the restaurant we wouldn’t be doing 350 portions at once within a 20-minute time frame. So, the dish needs to be put together with this in mind.

Q. A big part of the event is the involvement of students within the kitchen, how important are events such as these for the development of our future chefs?

Sam: Paying it forward and giving back to the industry that’s given me my career.

Mitchell: These events can be a big part in motivating young chefs, having the opportunity to work alongside skilled chefs, and seeing what can be achieved in such large volume, and potentially creating a future opportunity by networking with the chefs involved.

hunter culinary association food fight

Q. Sam, you have worked alongside some incredible chefs throughout your career, and now you’re running your own restaurant, what is one of the biggest learnings that you’ve received throughout your time in the industry.?

Sam: Trial and error, you only learn from making mistakes and self-discipline, guidance, and encouragement.

Q. Mitchell, you have been working as Head Chef at Muse Restaurant for the last 6 years, what is one of the biggest learnings that you have taken out of working at a restaurant of this standard?

Mitchell: Besides always learning about and having a higher appreciation of ever-changing produce, how its produced or farmed, where it comes from and the tribulations of getting it there. I’ve also learned to be capable and comfortable with running, motivating, and overseeing a large team at Muse’s level and standard.

Q. If possible to choose one, can you both share with us who has had the biggest influence on your career to date and why?

Sam: It’s not possible, I’ve had so many great mentors and so many different influences I wouldn’t be who I am today without any of them.

Mitchell: I don’t have one single person who has influenced me the most, but I have definitely taken a lot from every person I have worked with and also family members that have greatly influenced me to be where I am today in my career and personal life.