Life & Style

The man behind Chiefly West & Chiefly De Gallo

Just last week we announced our newest series, SPILL, where we’ll be taking you behind the scenes with our favourite local business owners and creatives to find out where they go to eat, what playlist they’re listening to, where they take their out-of-town friends, and ultimately, what makes them tick.

Without further ado, let us introduce you to our very first SPILL personality – Scottish-born-turned Novocastrian sandwich monger, Ali Downer of Chiefly West and Chiefly De Gallo.

spill ali downer chiefly west chiefly de gallo newcastle nsw
Ali Downer

Where are you from?

I am from Glasgow, Scotland.

What made you decide to call Newcastle home?

We fell in love with Newcastle in 2004 travelling around Australia as fruit-picking backpackers. Stockton caravan park was our first hangout, and we took the ferry over to Newy and thought hell yeah, this place is niiiice.

What’s your morning ritual?

Up early take the dog out, head into one of the shops, prepare for any catering deliveries, brew a pot of filter coffee, and start making muffins for baby nasties (AKA the kids).

Where’s your late-night hangout spot?

If I finish up work at Chiefly de Gallo late, I like to cruise along Honeysuckle on my bike back to Mayfield and watch the night lights and fisherfolk on the harbour. De-compress and be thankful for living here.

Which local venue knows your order by heart?

I love Slingtown Islington as it was my first work family in Newy. They make the best coffee and I love the vibe there.

Tell me about your biggest career highlight…

I used to cook for music shows in Scotland and we had an event called Celtic Connections where bands pay tribute to folk legends. We made dinner for a Bert Jansch tribute where Robert Plant, Graham Coxon, and Bernard Butler were performing, and Robert Plant thanked me for an excellent meal and I got to sit behind the sound desk after dinner service and watch the show. It was amazing.

When you’re not pulling together some of Newcastle’s tastiest toasties at Chiefly West, what are your three top favourite things to do in Newcastle?

- I love Nobbys so much. I try to go there every day for swims and walks.
- Bid Barn Wickham is amazing for finding treasure.
- Bogey Hole is our Sunday hangout.

If you wanted to dazzle your out-of-town friends and family, where would you take them?

King Eddies Park and walk down to Bogey Hole, and slip out to Falcon for a beer.

Beer? Wine? Spirit? Cocktail? Mocktail? What is your tipple of choice and where do you frequently visit?

Beer all the way. I love Method Brewery – it’s just across the bridge from Chiefly West. 

On the daily, what’s guaranteed to make you smile?

Customers who love our food.

What do you NEVER leave the house without?

My swimming shorts.

We’re all about keeping it local here at HUNTERhunter – tell me three of your favourite local businesses that you live and breathe by, and why you couldn’t live without them…

My kids and I love to share these experiences…
- Rascal burgers are a love affair. 
- Abicus is our go-to record and clothing store.
- Humble Thai is amazing for a feed-me experience.

What are you reading/ watching/ listening to right now?

Reading: Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson. He's my guru.
Listening: 'Gloria' by Them – an ode to my new girl.

If you’re needing a short break away from Newcastle, where do you go and why?

We like going to Barrington Tops and swimming in the cool waters.

What’s your go-to playlist?

THIS IS DE GALLO NIGHT by Chiefly East on Spotify.

Lucky last – who would you recommend we interview next for SPILL?

Chris from Slingtown!

Is there someone you would love for us to feature on SPILL? We’d love to hear from you!