Steve Scott brings years of industry experience to The Lucky’s new menu and kitchen
The Lucky Hotel, an icon of Newcastle’s East End, enters the next phase of its lengthy history as an all-star cast of food, hospitality, management, and design experts, including head-chef, Stephen Scott, team up to bring customers a rejuvenated, fresh experience.
Growing up in Mayfield, Steve was always drawn to cooking.
“Everyone told me not to pursue it, and that just made me want to do it even more!”
The Lucky was always a favourite for Steve and his mates, though having frequented the venue and observed its changes over the years, he assures me its earlier iterations were markedly different from its current identity.
“I loved it back in the day when it was an old band hall. You’d drink Old, or Old with a dash of raspberry and they were famous here for their $5 cocktail carafes of Fruit Tingle. It was fantastic … they had some great bands that came through!”
After completing his apprenticeship in Newcastle, Steve moved to the big smoke, working under Gordon Ramsay in a number of his establishments around London, including The Warrington, Claridge’s and Maze Grill. He returned to Sydney in 2016, where he worked alongside some of Australia’s most renowned chefs; he cut his teeth in Matt Kemp’s kitchen at the Charing Cross Hotel, and also headed up Matt Moran’s kitchen at The Paddington Inn.
The experience he acquired in London and Sydney shaped Steve’s personal ethos as a chef and hospitality professional, and instilled in him the values that continue to inspire his work at The Lucky.
“Our menu at The Charring Cross Hotel had a modern European touch, as well as some really good, classic pub food. It was very simple, but refined; it wasn’t fussy or fancy to an unapproachable extent but it was just nice, casual dining. That really started the path that I’m on now.”
It’s this approach that underpins the menu, and atmosphere, at The Lucky. The venue’s interior retains the dark, exposed-brick that characterised its earlier days, while the neon signs, paintings, and plants that adorn its walls now take inspiration from photographer, Slim Aarons, and transport customers to Palm Springs, California. The Lucky’s revitalised design and menu imbue the space with an air of contemporaneity, intrigue, fun, and playfulness.
“From a culinary perspective, the theme is amazing, because Palm Springs is a melting pot of all different cultures."
"It takes a bit of coordination to pull it all together correctly, but it allows you to have these different cultural dishes from around the world that are very separate, but which actually come together really well in an Australian pub environment.”
Designing a menu is a collaborative effort, and involves trial and error, Steve tells me. Working alongside other culinary experts, including the venue’s manager, Zac Davis, and his incredibly talented sous-chef, Kai Tran, has been instrumental to the new menu’s development and success.
“For me it’s really important that it’s not ‘The Steve Show’. It’s got to be a group effort, everyone needs to be behind it. We haven’t tried to reinvent the wheel—we’ll always serve up the favourites, like a parmi or a burger, but we want to be distinct too.”
“Before, the food at The Lucky was focused around the smoker they had here, whereas we’ve gone for a lighter, fresher menu that’s a bit of fun.”
Featuring a raw Tuna Tostada, spring green linguine, chicken waldorf salad, and Grilled Haloumi and honey, the menu’s emphasis on modern pub-dining is clear, and showcases a range of high-quality, sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients.
Creating a cohesive menu of crowd-pleasing throwback dishes, and what are sure to be new favourites is a challenge, and at The Lucky, the success of such an endeavour is testament to Steve Scott’s impressive career, and the support he receives from his community of colleagues.
“I feel fortunate to be working alongside our new owner, Martin Scott and designer Sandy Grice, both for the first time. Zac Davis from our management company, Tilley and Wills — we’ve all worked together before so there was already a sense of community."
“I think we always felt like we could have done more in the past, and all of a sudden there was that opportunity to do more here, at The Lucky.”
As Newcastle continues to grow and adapt, and as culture and trends constantly fluctuate, maintaining the essence of such a historic venue, while offering up a fresh experience, is no simple feat. Steve Scott’s kitchen at The Lucky, however, masters this effortlessly.
“The worst question in the world is ‘What’s your signature dish?’ To me, a good dish is just a couple of components, done well, driven by fresh-produce, and cooked with love.”
Get down to The Lucky, to discover your newest pub-favourite!