Just when I thought I had silly season nailed! It jumps up on me at warp speed, not a present wrapped or even a for!
Instead I found myself aimlessly wandering around in late December in jam packed shopping centres amidst other frantic shoppers in the same dilemma, wishing wholeheartedly that I had gone for the online option with free gift wrap and freight months in advance like sensible organised beings! I am a huge fan of face to face retail therapy and absolutely love supporting the locals; however, this year I just left my run ridiculously too late and suffered a serious case of Christmas chaos claustrophobia and had to limit my time in public shopping centres to late at night and the wee hours of the morning. Thank god for early and late night trade – yes, I was the sad figure knocking on the windows at dawn saying … are you open yet? Trying to get in and out alive before the Kris Kringle crush was a mission in itself! Somehow in the grab and tackle for last minute gifts, I came away with some vaguely strange and on occasion wildly inappropriate gifts bought in haste … I am hoping to make it up to loved ones at Easter …chocolate really is my forte, after all.
In a whirlwind of parties, the New Year calls, but not without acknowledgment of the adornment of birthdays, celebrations and weddings in the last months of the year. The gorgeous Annette Holmes and Kane O’Donnell were married in late November in a beautiful garden ceremony at Frazer’s Creek near Beechwood at the O’Donnell family property. The Melbourne based bride wore a stunning vintage lace top dress, with bridesmaids in soft metallic grey. Guests were greeted by Pimms and lemonade on the lawn, an array of gourmet cheeses and a stunning outdoor marquee with bocce and games to while away the evening. Eighty guests enjoyed canapés by SilverSpoon Catering followed by a two tier cake made by the bride of orange and poppyseed with a divine passionfruit cream and chocolate mud with a wickedly decadent milk chocolate ganache. Guests embraced the romantic vintage theme of the wedding, relaxing on lounges and stunning wooden furniture in the marquee, a special thanks to both sets of parents for thier input and support. Annette and Kane, a local lad and Cambridge graduate, make their home back in Melbourne. Congrats to a beautiful couple – wishing you every happiness on your journey together!
For the first time in the history of this column, I have actually had the opportunity to attend the Festival of the Sun. Congrats to Simon, Scott and the crew at FOTSUN for an excellent showcase of live talent on our water’s edge at Sundowner. We had an absolute ball and soaked up the very positive vibe of the festival (one small tip – if you are feeling a little self conscious about the age factor … beware! A sure way to feel your age is to walk through a camp ground of gorgeous young things surely not old enough to be away from home or driving a vehicle but looking fantabulous in the festival glad rags! Yikes!) Jack was chuffed to debut at FOTSUN with his first festival experience, rocking it out in the pram – freestyle and free range in the main stage area – complete with his own green earphones to protect tiny ears – not that they stayed on too long! Hermitude was clearly a crowd favourite and certainly mine, with the talented Phil Jamieson and Joe Robinson smoking it up for their local fans. Sadly, Jack’s love of the festival ended just prior to the ever stylish Kimbra stepping onto main stage, putting an end to our festivities with a quick exit stage left! By all accounts, the grand finale by the sassy songbird was fabulous. Congrats to all for another successful year.
Some may have heard talk of a roaring 1920s party … a prohibition shindig at a speak easy joint held at the Flynns Beach Surf Club. Louise Beaumont’s 30th birthday was the occassion – vintage cars, fast women, fabulous costumes, deadly cocktails, fine food and swinging music set the stage for a hilarious night of fun and dodgy vintage swimwear worn by none other than Teale Bryan and Steve Foye, illegal gambling and a bootful of cigars. A night to remember for some … others are still trying to forget! Happy birthday, Lou!
Lovely local couple Kelly Andrews and Joshua Moore were married on a wet and wild day in November, with 95 guests celebrating this special day. The ceremony was held at Rydges with celebrant Marie Watts, followed by a reception in the waterfront function rooms where guests enjoyed canapés, entrée and main and a delicious three tier chocolate mud cake made by Trish Jackson. Kelly looked stunning in an ivory gown, with her bridesmaids, Carla Andre and Kate Styles in a beautiful blue. Josh was attended by Mick Styles and Jade Collyer. Congrats to the happy couple, who make their home in Wauchope. All the best, you two!
Congrats to Kate and Al Owen of Black Duck Brewery, who celebrated the opening of their Acacia Avenue brewery on Saturday 15 December. Eighty guests enjoyed fab food and ales to celebrate the newest boutique brewery on the scene. Well done, Kate and Al! Happily, I was able to get a sneak peak at the fab venue when the FOCUS crew held their Christmas party at the venue in December. Congrats to Lou and Jay, who celebrated 7 years of FOCUS and 85 editions. Guests enjoyed yummy treats from the FOCUS food truck, including Kimchi, Asian Pork Sliders and yummy chicken gumbo. Guests, including Belinda and Zoe Rodger of Ella Baché, Steve and Meredy of Glasshouse Flowers, Karl Mclean of ANZ, Eric and Monica Robinson of The Other Chef, Kylie Morris of Hot Graphics, Rob Marlow of Café Culture and his lovely lady, Peta, and David Young from Never Late Electrical, to name but a few of the 80 strong crowd, all enjoyed ales and a little Christmas cheer.
Congrats to Andrew Miedecke, who recently celebrated a special birthday at his waterfront home in Port Macquarie. Andrew was joined by his sons, George and Harry, and 12 of his closest friends dating back to school days, who flew in from all over the country to raise a glass to the birthday boy. The gents had a relaxed evening of seafood, steak, fine cheeses and wines. Happy birthday, Andrew!
I leave you this month preparing for a dash back to the 1940s at the NYE Casablanca event at the hotel. Over 120 guests will be channelling Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman for a fabulous night of cocktails, live Tango, cabaret singers, dancers and gambling! I think I can feel a little cocktail or two coming on! Happy New Year! Kate.
This article can be found in issue 86 of Greater Port Macquarie Focus
There are a number of aquatic marathons over the months of August and September, but none as versatile as the The Rydges Port Macquarie 3 Rivers Mini Marathon. Chrissy Jones chats with Kim Chilton about this annual event, set to take place on August 12.
What inspired you to become a chef?
I have always been interested in food and cooking. From an early age, I was keen to explore flavours and styles of food. The lifestyle also appealed to me – being able to travel Australia creating dishes up and down the coast.
Tell us about your background in the hospitality industry.
I am a Port Macquarie local and completed my four year apprenticeship at Cray’s Seafood Restaurant in Port Macquarie on Clarence St. This restaurant, owned by Zar and Gernard Waterhouse, was the seafood restaurant in its day, serving up a selection of local seafood for locals and visitors to the region. Head Chef at Vista Restaurant was my next big project; the new owners ironically took over the upstairs space, formerly Crays.
I then was the Head Chef for Finnian’s Irish Tavern, followed by a stint up in Cairns on the Ocean Spirit Cruise – the largest cruise operation in Cairns, with three boats each catering for 150 guests. This was an amazing experience, getting to meet many talented chefs and seeing some more of Australia’s beautiful coastline. I also worked at Fish Divine, an amazing seafood restaurant and bar in Cairns, before being offered the role at Zebu – bringing me back to Port Macquarie.
What are some of your favourite ingredients to use on a daily basis?
There are so many to choose from! I would have to say my key favourites would be seafood of all kinds, chilli, and cured meats like our house cured Ocean Trout.
What is unique about the Zebu menu?
Our unique point of difference would be our specially sourced meats. We are currently sourcing our beef from the Central Tablelands, Tasmania and the highlands of Victoria. Our Pork is coming from Bangalow on the North Coast and is some of the best in the country. We have also just employed a talented new dessert chef, Christina Hamel, who is creating some really eclectic and amazing desserts and pastry creations for our guests.
Tell us about some of the winter menu favourites.
Our winter menu will launch in mid June and will be highlighting some delicious winter classics with some modern inspirations, such as our Venison Wellington with globe artichoke and gooseberry jus. A classic Bouillabaisse will also be a feature on the menu – a French classic with a Zebu signature. Roasted Quail Confit with tomato fondue will also be a great winter dish. Something new to try will be the Five Course Seafood Degustation.
Do you cater for functions or any other special services at Zebu?
The Zebu Room is a private waterfront space attached to the restaurant that caters for 60 in a banquet formation or 90 cocktail style and is perfect for birthdays, engagements, cocktail parties or corporate dinners. This space has its own private balcony, with views and access to the Town Green and is perfect for celebrations and corporate events.
What will people enjoy most about dining at Zebu? Zebu has its own unique atmosphere, with beautiful fireplaces throughout the bar and grill, natural timbers, candlelight and of course, the floor to ceiling windows with vast views over the water. It is the perfect spot for a cosy winter dinner with friends or colleagues. The bar is also a great winter meeting place for after work drinks or a pre dinner cocktail.
Rod Noble is a local who has visited Bangladesh on several occasions and witnessed firsthand both the extreme poverty the Bangladeshi people live with every day, but also their resilience in the face of adversity. Read more
Rydges’ new function centre has been created to cater to every event, with its glorious views, comfortable amenities and inspired menus. We offer a full range of menus, from breakfast to light breaks, executive lunches and three-course meals from our state of the art kitchen and bar …
The new conference and events space looks amazing, Kate. What prompted the expansion and refurbishment?
The space was created to address the immediate need for a premium venue of a substantial size located in the CBD. Our team has been working on an expansion plan for a number of years and with the support and foresight of our GM and owners, we have been able to create a new space that serves as a meeting and event hub for locals, as well as draw new business to the region.
We have maximised the views to the ocean by opening up the room from all angles, giving it a real feeling of depth and space. We are hoping to offer an attractive option to conference organisers wishing to showcase the best of Port Macquarie.
It must be a relief to have removed the previously L-shaped conference room to allow for larger functions – allowing a significant increase in capacity?
Yes, we have thankfully removed the old L-shape conference space and replaced it with a square conference/events room, to seat 300 for a formal dinner or over 600 for a cocktail event. We are ideally placed to cater for large corporate or community events, including school formals, awards nights, charity events, weddings and of course, attract substantial conference, association and sporting groups – not only from this region, but from metropolitan centres.
What feature of the new space do you feel will be the most appealing to potential clients?
Without doubt, the uninterrupted views to the ocean and the Hastings River revealed through our ceiling to floor windows on three sides of the function room. We have also managed to retain three balcony spaces, which provide relief from a day of conferencing and amazing water vistas. These two features, combined with our convenient CBD location, will really appeal to both corporate event and special event organisers.
Does the space have its own kitchen and bar?
Yes, we have invested a significant amount of time and resources into the creation of a fully functional bar and kitchen. Both areas have been fully redesigned to the highest standard. The new design allows service of food and beverages into the function room swiftly and seamlessly. David Capper, along with Brent Tozer, our Zebu Bar Operations Manager, had significant input into the bar space.
The design of the exterior of the bar is reminiscent of the style found in Zebu itself. Perfect for a cocktail after the conference, or for serving 600 thirsty cocktail guests prior to a movie premiere!
Tell us about the new function menus that have been released to coincide with the opening of the new function centre.
The menus reflect our commitment to fresh produce and contemporary flavours, encompassing all that is good about a coastal venue – including an abundance of fresh seafood, quality meats and seasonal fruit and vegetables.
We have a full range of menus, from breakfast to light breaks, executive luncheons and three- course meals. Our canapé range has been totally revamped, featuring a new deluxe range – with one of my personal favourites being the crisp pork belly on ginger pear puree and cress. Another favourite is the duck and pork sang choy bow served in witlof leaf.
We also offer three levels of Day Delegate Packages, including our standard, premium and executive packages. We are currently tasting our way through the menu!
The Masquerade Charity Ball was the first hotel event in the new space. How did it all go?
We had a fabulous night – over 230 guests were able to enjoy the night, with canapés on arrival, followed by a sample of the new mains and desserts. The room looked quite amazing, with feathers and finery. We were able to raise $15K for the Mid Coast Care Charity, which was really gratifying.
So many locals lent their support to the night and kicked up their heels on the waterside dance floor.
Along with the new space, you have introduced some new faces to your team?
Grant Melville has joined us in a newly created position of Food and Beverage Manager, overseeing the operational aspects of the restaurant, bar and function space.
Amanda Perrin-Sumner is our new Wedding Co-ordinator, with Jackie Lawlor taking on the additional role as Conference Co-ordinator for corporate meetings and conferences.
Walter Niall joined us earlier this year and is our Banquets Manager, who looks after the day to day running of the functions.
We have also taken on at least 20 new floor staff, who are currently completing training in the new functions space. The new management team are really enjoying the opportunity to work on larger events and a brand new facility.
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Seriously, enough already!
Allegedly we are supposed to be on the party wind down for the year – someone has obviously forgotten to give Port Macquarie this memo! Celeb spottings, race days, birthdays and weddings literally saturated this hectic month, with more of the same expected for March! Clearly I am going to need a bumper pack of party feet and serious dose of Vitamin B to get me through!
We recently had a delicious breakfast at new café ‘The Milkbar’ under the Observatory. It was standing space only for the wet and woolly Sunday when we celebrated good friend Jamie ‘Sparkles’ Styles’s birthday. Thankfully our booking ensured us a very comfy table! Eight of us tucked into a fabulous brekky and some seriously yummy coffees. Steve clearly enjoyed himself, tucking in to no less than 3 luscious lattes! In typical form, the ladies in the party were left wondering how breakfast turned into beers, with the party going through three venue changes and finishing at four in the afternoon! Happy birthday Jamie – looking forward to trying the new release ‘sparkles’ from Cassegrain soon!
We did a spot of power shopping a couple of weekends ago and we bumped (literally bumped – poor thing!) into Toni Collette. The gorgeous Aussie actress must have been home on some well deserved R&R with hubby Dave Galafassi and his family in Wauchope. Fresh from her recent Golden Globe win in the US for her starring role in The United States of Tara, Toni topped off her trip with dinner at the Boardwalk for an evening of vino and tapas. She was even so gracious as to sign a plate for the Boardwalk boys to hang on their wall of fame. It’s good to see that even Hollywood hasn’t diminished her love for the coast or a bit of retail therapy at Just Jeans! A girl needs a decent pair of jeans, after all!
Exciting times for ex local and beautiful entrepreneur Samantha Wills, whose success in Tinseltown continues to sky rocket. This lovely and hardworking lass, now based in New York City, recently showed her wares to LA style guru Rachel Zoe from the Rachel Zoe Project. Rachel styles for all the huge names in Hollywood, including the leggy and lovely Cameron Diaz. Rachel most notably styled Anne Hathaway for her Oscar red carpet/Hugh Jackman moment – it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it! There is no doubt local girl Sam will continue her ascent to fame and fortune. Sam may be planning a little visit home later in the year for a special local event – fingers crossed she can fit us into her very busy and fabulous schedule!
If rain on your wedding day is a sign of good luck, then Joel Wehlow and his lovely new wife Jenny Mezzina are going to be the luckiest people on earth! The two had planned to be married on sunny Oxley Beach; however, due to the torrential downpour, a quick ‘Plan B’ venue change was put in place as the happy couple said “I do” at Flynn’s Beach Surf Club. Guests were bussed back to Pam and Arthur Wehlow’s stunning Fernbank Creek Rd property, where they were greeted by a magical marquee filled with stunning flowers from Touchwood and twinkling tealights. Over 160 guests greeted the gorgeous couple, who quite literally radiated love and fun throughout the night. Jenny looked absolutely stunning in her off the shoulder gown, with her gorgeous bridesmaids in a striking blue. Joel and the boys wore camel suits and looked handsome and happy as they partied throughout the night. The whole wedding was a family affair, with both sides assisting with preparations on and before the night. Parents of the bride, Jane and Gerry Mezzina, along with sister Louise and hubby Demitri put the final touches on the marquee. MC Josh did a fabulous job of keeping the night on track. We had lots of fun with the guests, including Jenny’s cheeky and charming Italian uncle, who insisted we keep a solid stream of red vino coming his way! The guests enjoyed Silverspoon canapés followed by a sumptuous buffet main course. Rain certainly didn’t dampen the crowd’s mood, with every Mezzina and Wehlow up on the dance floor! Congratulations to Jenny and Joel – wishing you lots of fun, love and happiness!
Alicia Steinhardt and Shaun Weelands were married in mid February in a ceremony at historic St Thomas’ Church. Seventy guests enjoyed a waterfront reception at Rydges with a wedding feast created by Executive Chef Michael Schubert. Guests enjoyed champagne and canapés, with band ‘Well Swung’ entertaining the guests throughout the evening. The main course was followed by a chocolate mud wedding cake from Penelope K for dessert. The couple honeymooned with a cruise on the South Pacific. Congrats to you both.
We had a lovely if somewhat windy day at the Port Macquarie races in February. Rydges & Travelworld supported the Focus Fashions on The Field for the annual ladies’ day, Queen of the North race meet. Thankfully it was a sunny day and we enjoyed an afternoon of bubbles and nibbles on the Chairman’s Lounge Deck overlooking the track. It was good to see some fashionable and familiar faces, including Dianne Richmond, Toni Cooper, Annabel Warren and Varan Freestone, all frocking up and looking fabulous on the day. Official judges Ria Smith from Funk’d and I had our work cut out for us, with so many elegant ladies and gents to choose form. Congrats to all winners who went home with a swag of prizes to the tune of $5,000, including goodies from Travelworld Port Macquarie, Novotel Coffs Harbour, Rydges, Tommy’s By The Beach, Touchwood Flowers, East Coast Laser and Ella Baché. The guys in Port really should wise up to this whole ‘ladies’ day’ concept – where else are you going to get a chance to rub shoulders with so many fine fillies all frocked up and ready to party? Note to self, fellas – Queen of the North – worth a diary entry for next year!
I made a rather rash comment in an online public forum last month that I would be hanging up my party shoes for the season … It seems that this statement was quite hasty and is considerably harder to adhere to than initially anticipated! Statement officially retracted!
Until next month, Kate.
Yvonne Kiely, one of our talented local artists, will be exhibiting at the Artist Market on 4th October. Experience her inner world of the heart for a greater sense of well being.
Focus was pleased to partner with Settlement City and Rydges for the local modelling competition held in April. Local student Brooke Durrant was judged the winner. Her prize package included a photoshoot in Sydney to help launch her career.
What an extraordinary couple of weeks we have had – extraordinarily sad with bushfires in rural Victoria and the unexpected torrential downpour of rain in Port Macquarie for us. Life would seem a little more fair if the rains had transported themselves further south, rather than drenching us all in the north.
I have recently returned from a trip to Melbourne and do declare that Melbournites are highly resilient, delightful people who have an absolutely stunning city. It’s got a little more soul than its edgier sister Sydney, and the people seem to be just more down to earth and a little more genuine. Melbourne is also home to my favourite DFO shopping spots, and despite earlier vows to stay away from them, their allure was just too strong! I soon found myself hightailing it up the street in seriously unsuitable stilettos, dodging trams and passersby – my natural homing device zooming in on DFO heaven. Despite a busy schedule, I managed to squeeze in the essential hour of power post conference retail session!
While I was away I was lucky enough to enjoy a fabulous meal at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen in Melbourne – despite obvious plusses on arrival (a rather gorgeous waiter, reminiscent of Prince Will prior to premature balding, with a very alluring foreign accent!) the atmosphere and food were just divine. Rather than an overspiced, overdressed meal, the food was simple, elegant and the flavour combinations just delicious. The service was not only pleasing on the eye, but on the spirit. The waitstaff took genuine interest in us as guests but weren’t so intrusive with pompous descriptions and flourishes that you couldn’t enjoy your meal. Sadly, the lovable Londoner Jamie was not in sight, but his kitchen brigade certainly did him proud.
Rydges Port Macquarie held its annual Back to Business Event poolside in mid Feb, with corporate guests enjoying a welcome back to the New Year in relaxed style. Hosted by the executive team, guests enjoyed canapés, drinks and the launch of the new conference season. Duo Matt & Elizabeth entertained the relaxed guests as they enjoyed the waterfront venue. Thanks to the ever generous Ashleigh Trouncer of Qantas for her sponsorship of two return flights from Sydney – Marc Stortenbeker was certainly chuffed with the prize, being the lucky winner of the much sought after flights. Marc Minor of Sovereign Hills also stepped away with a dinner for two in Rydges waterfront restaurant.
Congrats to Scott Blanch, winner of the Dig for a Diamond promotion outside Vue Café & Bar. Over 100 guests braved strong winds and torrential rain to dive for the sparkly trinket. Well done to Claire, Hugh, Steve and the rest of the Star FM team for putting up with such wild and woolly conditions. Hot chocolate and a raincoat anyone!
Good friends Mr Tracy Goss and beautiful fiancée Ellen Howell celebrated their Australian wedding party on Saturday 14 February at their new home on the canals. Tracy, a native of New Zealand and Ellen from Arizona chose a wild, wild west theme for their pre wedding celebration. Guests donned Stetsons, corsets, leather and plenty of gingham to congratulate the happy couple on their impending wedding.
“Howdy partner” seemed to be the flavour of the night, with plenty of guests chowing down on south of the border cuisine and Budweiser beer. Guests, including Gemma & Jason Clifton, Louise & Jay Beaumont, Chris Kelly and gorgeous gal Fiona Dodd all got into the western theme, with some guys taking their cowboy roles a little more seriously than others! The happy couple cut their ‘pre’ wedding cake and did a very sexy salsa number for their bridal dance, leaving us all feeling slightly uncoordinated and inadequate, wishing we could book in fairly swiftly for salsa lessons! Tracy and Ellen head over to the US to celebrate their real wedding in early March with family and friends from abroad. I am super excited that we will be there to join in with all the fun!
As a new home owner, I am seriously concerned at the amount of time I am spending at Bunnings. Previously an uneventful once a month trip to get essential items, I am now finding myself there every weekend scouring the shelves for handy home items and garden paraphernalia. Who knew that I needed a reverse cycle dishwasher double hose fixture or a pitch fork with extra grip and slow release organic fertiliser?
This sad but enjoyable shopping practice keeps me strangely happy in gumboots and scruffies all weekend. I understand the true depth of our issue when Steve goes into serious withdrawals if he hasn’t had his weekly fix of Bunnings fundraising sausage sandwich! Scary!
Next time I write to you all I will be in sunny Mexico lapping up the sunshine on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on the Mexican Riviera. Bring on the Mohitos and the nachos, baby! I am ready for a wind down! I am sure a little bit of R & R will be in order after the wedding celebrations in Arizona and our little stop over in Vegas. Having never been on a cruise before, I am a little concerned about the vomitus el seasickness issue! I will be loading us all up with a good dose of travel calm prior to embarking! One small hindrance to a successful OS trip is a current passport – I am currently waiting with bated breath to see if my last minute order arrives! I will not be a happy camper if I am the only amigo left behind! Adios!