Hunter Chefs & Co – 4th Annual ‘Food Fight’



On June 3rd, 2013 the gloves were off at Wyndham Estate in the Hunter Valley for the Hunter Chefs & Co. 4th Annual Food Fight.

One of the first events in the Hunter Valley Wine & Food Month calendar, this year the Food Fight showdown saw three Hunter region ‘Masters’ – Robert Molines from Bistro Molines; Troy Rhoades Brown of Muse; and Michael Robinson from Margan, battling against the ‘Young Guns’ – Frank Fawkner, sous chef at Muse; Mark Bennet, head chef at Esca; and Jamie Ryan from Milanos on the Lake covering at short notice for Thomas Robinson, sous chef at Bacchus.


The teams created unique three-course lunches, with dishes served side by side as guests voted on each course to determine who won the day.

Sydney chefs were also on hand, with Colin Fassnidge of Four in Hand and 4/14 mentoring the Young Guns, and Matt Kemp acting as master of ceremonies for the afternoon – even hopping into the kitchen to assist the teams in serving over 1600 plates to eager diners.



Hunter Chefs & Co is a not-for-profit association formed by a group of Hunter Executive Chefs and Industry Professionals in order to promote the Hunter Region’s talent and produce. At its core is a drive to foster upcoming regional chefs and publicise the area not only for wine, but as an exceptional food destination.


Canapés served before the meal were produced entirely by Hunter Region’s talented apprentices. “This event wouldn’t be possible without the help of the Region’s apprentices,” said Matt Kemp, “it’s exciting to see that there’s so much talent in the Region and that Hunter Chefs & Co are working hard to support and develop them.”


According to chef Troy Rhoades Brown, a vast majority of ingredients on the menu were seasonal and sourced locally from around the Hunter Region.

Hunter Chefs & Co - Hunter Valley by SeasonalSundayLunch

The lunch included an auction which raised more than $11,000 for the Hunter Chefs & Co apprentice initiatives including the Front of House Industry Professional Awards, and the prestigious Brett Graham Scholarship.

All the prizes were donated by local wineries and businesses and we were lucky to be seated with the lovely team from Bimbadgen, including a young chef from their on-site restaurant. As a Hunter winery they are active in supporting local rising talent and promoting the region’s produce.


60029-600-wCured salmon, warm spices, fennel, miso, orange, char sui | Veloute of spanner crab with ciboulette & petit brioche


60030-600-wPave of braised lamb, beetroot, roast onion, goat cheese, horseradish | Smoked pork neck, soubise, apricot, curry


60031-600-wChocolate, mandarin, coconut, cardamom | Doughnuts, matcha & chai tea, apple, vanilla, condensed milk, quark

The Hunter Region Young Guns took out the day, winning two courses to the Masters one.

Ben Neil, Chairman of Hunter Chefs & Co said, “The anonymity of the voting for each course [with diners not knowing who produced what] certainly added an extra element of excitement to this year’s battle and we anticipate the event to continue growing in popularity. We will be looking to further develop the concept next year to ensure the experience continues to amaze”

L-R, Frank Fawkner from Muse, Mark Bennett from Esca Bimbadgen, Jamie Ryan from Milanos on the LakeThe winning Young Guns team from left to right: Frank Fawkner, Muse; Mark Bennett, Esca; Jamie Ryan, Milanos on the Lake.

The Hunter Valley Wine and Food Month Experience is a month-long celebration of all the Hunter Valley has to offer. Running until the end of June you can check out the full calendar here.


JJ and guest attended the Hunter Valley Wine & Food Month event as a guest of Hunter Chefs & Co. Photo credit: Jennifer Jenner unless otherwise noted.

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About JJ

JJ is editor and co-founder of Seasonal Sunday Lunch. She is a recipe developer, photographer, stylist, marketing consultant, freelance writer and creator of the popular food blog 84th & 3rd. JJ believes food should be fun, healthy does not mean boring and if all else fails pie makes everything better. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram.


  1. […] met the lovely Bimbadgen team when RJ and I were up in the Hunter Valley for the Hunter Chefs & Co 4th Annual Food Fight and really enjoyed their sparkling Semillon so was excited to try the Moscato*. A pretty pink […]

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