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Spring Wine Dinner Highlights


A recap of our Spring Series of Wine Dinners


Our first wine dinner of Spring was a partnership with International Restaurant Review Guide, Gault & Millau with Donovan Cooke at his North Fitroy restaurant, Ryne. Donovan is one of the world’s most experienced chefs, working as Head Chef for Marco Pierre White and Head Chef of the legendary Waterside Bistro in London, before heading up the kitchens at iconic La Côte St Jacques in Burgundy. He then transported himself to the shores of Australia where he opened a string of Melbourne restaurants including the city’s first three hat restaurants Est Est Est, Luxe and Ondine. Ryne is a more relaxed, but still highly regarded restaurant drawing upon Donovan’s extensive experience whilst snuggling in as a great local eatery for North Melbourne locals looking for a more casual dining experience. Our dinner was a four course menu designed by Donovan to reflect key dishes from each of his most famous roles and establishments, matched with 8 of our wines.


We then moved to the high country of Wentworth Falls within the Blue Mountains at the spectacular Fairmont Resort with sweeping views down the escarpments of the Jamison Valley. The dinner was a 6 course menu paired with 10 of our wines prepared by equally legendary Montréal-born chef,  Serge Dansereau. Serge moved to Australia in 1983, running the first 3 hat restaurant in Sydney, Kable’s Restaurant at The Regent winning Good Food Guide’s Chef of the Year in 1990. Serge went on and established the iconic Bather’s Pavilion Restaurant at Balmoral Beach in 1999 which has recently just re-opened after a $14 million dollar refurbishment.


In Mid-October we partnered again with Gault & Millau to showcase their number one Queensland (#14 in Australia) restaurant, 4-hatted Urbane in Brisbane. Urbane is a Brisbane institution established 17 years ago. It has maintained its position and quality through the 17 years cementing its place as one of the great restaurants of Queensland and Australia. Their new chef, Brisbane-born Andy Gunn returned from France where he worked his way through some of the City of Light’s most illustrious establishments – Les Ambassadeurs at Hotel de Crillon, La Grand Cascade under Frederic Robert, two Michelin Le Taillevent with Alain Soliveres and finally with Christian Le Squer at Le Cinq. Le Cinq was awarded their third Michelin during Andrew’s tenure making it one of Paris’ premiere establishments. Andy designed a beautiful 5 course, 10 matched wine menu drawing upon his experiences on his travels through the great restaurants of the world. We have been very fortunate to have been selected as Urbane’s wine partner for the past two years.


Mid October also saw us head to the new and very impressive Allan Grammar wine bar and restaurant in Penrith at the foot of the Blue Mountains. The brainchild of Sophia and Aaron Bernecki who after many years working at many world class restaurants around the world (Aaron actually worked alongside Andy Gunn in Paris) decided to open this beautiful location near their families rather than in Inner Sydney. With a space and design that would fit nicely in Soho New York or Notting Hill London, their aim was to provide beautiful food, exciting wines and a great dining experience to the people of outer Western Sydney and the lower Blue Mountains. They have brought together an amazing team, including Head Chef Robert Te Whaiti who was previously Head Chef at then one-hatted Bellevue Hotel in Paddington and spent many years working through London’s Mayfair and Fleet Street institutions. Managed by Shirin, previously manager of Leura Gourmet and with mixologist also from the Bellevue Hotel, Tim, running the bar it was a wonderful evening and a testament to the expansion of great food and wine in Sydney beyond the inner suburbs. Robert prepared a delicious 5 course menu, supported by Aaron who also returned to the kitchen for the night.


Rounding out the Spring dining experiences was an exceptional’ dinner at Restaurant Moon in Darlinghurst – one of the most exciting new restaurants to appear in Sydney’s Inner East. Head Chef Aum Touchpong Chancaw was most recently Chef of the popular institution, Longrain in Surry Hills but his experience includes working at the 2 Michelin Restaurant Palais Royal in Paris and a number of other restaurants in Belgium and France. Prior to Europe and Australia, Chef Aum, born in Thailand, worked his way up through the kitchens of some of the most luxurious hotels in Bangkok. As anticipated, the night was a demonstration of Chef Aum’s experience and exceptional talent in blending traditional Thai Cooking with European (in particular French) Fine Dining to produce a modern and original 5 course menu blending these cooking styles and flavours. The night culminated in a snap decision by the Head of Gault Millau Australia to give an impromptu speech at the end congratulating Chef Aum on a spectacular evening and in particular, his cooking skills.


A preview of what is to come in 2020.


After partnering with nearly 30 venues in 2019 from Adelaide to Melbourne, Wollongong, Sydney, Blue Mountains, Sunshine and Gold Coast, Brisbane and right up to Port Douglas, we are already planning some very exciting dinners in the year ahead. There will be many familiar faces as we reprise our wine dinners with key partners of the past two years, but there will be new events to look out for… including a take over of a hot new restaurant in Newcastle, a number of wine dinners in FNQ throughout the tourist season, oysters and wines in the Northern Suburbs of Sydney and leveraging the growing relationship we have with Gault & Millau Australia and Atout France (Tourism France).


In late 2020, we have been invited by Atout France to provide wine and commentary for a very special dinner with world #1 Chef and #1 Restaurant, Guy Savoy. Guy is taking over the kitchen at Neil Perry’s Rockpool. Unfortunately the event is invitation only to launch France’s 2023 Rugby World Cup tourism campaign, but we are hoping to see if we can do something else with him whilst here that may be available for our extended wine family.