THERE seems to be a battle of the cooking shows on at the moment between My Kitchen Rules and MasterChef: The Professionals.
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And fans are loyal and devoted – are you a My Kitchen Rules foodie or a MasterChef: The Professionals diehard?

Team Manu or Team Marco?

I have to admit that I’m a MasterChef kind of gal. I wouldn’t have a clue about what goes on in MKR, something about teams and cooking and the other teams judging?

But I’m not sure how Pete and Manu fit into it.

I really should watch it one of these days.

What’s appealing to me about this incarnation of MasterChef is the addition of Marco Pierre White and the fact the format is about a bunch of professionals putting themselves on the plate.

Having trained chefs battle it out adds a slightly gladiatorial atmosphere to the show. This isn’t just wannabes making a mess – these are people with their careers and reputations on the line. There’s something ruthless, yet devastating, about it.

Which hatted restaurants are going to hire a reject from the early elimination rounds?

Or who wants to eat at a restaurant where the chef thinks putting banana in aioli is a good idea? I’d also be avoiding a chef so arrogant they question the credentials of Marco Pierre White.

Speaking of whom, this man has a reputation to be feared.

He once cut open an employee’s uniform when they dared to complain about the temperature in the kitchen. His kitchen tales are the stuff of legends.

And yet we are presented with a man who is firm, fair, fabulous, and a complete softy when it comes to consoling blubbering messes. Team Marco forever.

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DINING IN: Masterchef’s Matt Preston and Marco Pierre White.

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REVIVAL: Peppers Guest House general manager Brian Rooney with executive chef John Edwards, who have overseen the rebirth of the Chez Pok restaurant.THE name Chez Pok was synonymous with Hunter Valley dining for decades before disappearing in 2010.
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But this year the institution returns at Peppers Guest House, Pokolbin, with a new executive chef and French-inspired menu.

Chez Pok is said to have been the first hotel restaurant to open in the Hunter Valley three decades ago. The eatery was renamed Restaurant Sanctuary in 2010 but has now returned to the much-loved moniker.

Roughly translated, Chez Pok means ‘‘among the Pokolbin people’’.

‘‘There is still great affection for the Chez Pok name in the valley – people haven’t forgotten the standard the restaurant set that so many have since embraced,’’ Peppers Guest House general manager Brian Rooney said.

‘‘Chez Pok really helped put the region on the dining map for Sydneysiders as well, and my new chef and I agreed it was time to revive the name that held so many great memories for guests of Peppers Guest House.’’

Under the eye of executive chef John Edwards, the food will return to the French-fusion style served by Chez Pok in the past.

‘‘The new menu has a focus on using as much local produce as possible while reintroducing French flavours,’’ Mr Edwards said.

‘‘It is a more streamlined menu in terms of its complexity than previous offerings, but one with lots of variety, which is why we are offering both main dishes and the share-plate option so that guests can avoid getting food envy when they order!’’

To celebrate its return, Chez Pok is offering all diners a complimentary glass of wine from its list of award-winning Hunter Valley wines to enjoy with every two-course meal, valid until April30. To book, call 49938999.

For those looking for a Hunter Valley getaway, the Gourmet Food Trail package from $399 per night includes breakfast for two, a three-course dinner for two at Chez Pok plus a food hamper. It is valid until March31, Sunday to Friday, subject to availability. Visit peppers南京夜网.au/guest-house.

Burgers for charity

GRILL AID: Getting behind Boardies Day.

LOSE the suit and tie and don your boardies on Friday to raise funds for the Surf Life Saving Foundation. Or better still, tuck into a burger at Grill’d, The Junction, where staff have thrown their support behind Dixon Park Surf Life Saving Club.

Staff will also ditch their kitchen gear and get into boardies on Friday for Boardies Day. Visit boardiesday南京夜网.au for more.

You can also do your bit for charity HeartKids this month by buying marked items from Donut King, Brumby’s Bakery, Michel’s Patisserie and Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar. The businesses are rallying in a bid to raise $200,000 for HeartKids, with 50¢ from every HeartKids product sold in NSW this month donated to the charity.

Verandah with a view

THIS Friday night the Keith Tulloch Tasting Lounge will be transformed into the After Hours Vintage Bar, a place to relax on the Pokolbin property’s verandah overlooking the shiraz vines and Brokenback Ranges with a glass of wine and share plate from Muse Kitchen.

The bar will be open from 5.30pm to 7.30pm. Visitors will be able to purchase a glass of Keith Tulloch wine and share plates from Muse Kitchen.

Bookings recommended for the verandah on 49987500. Follow the drinks and tasting plate with dinner at Muse Dining, bookings on 49986777.


WHETHER it’s an intimate dinner or catching up with friends or family, The Junction’s Del Peco is versatile.
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For the late risers still after bacon and eggs or pancakes or something from Del Peco’s extensive breakfast menu, there is all-day breakfast until 5pm.

Or drop in at lunch for a selection of wraps, sandwiches, salads, open burgers or perhaps tapas if you’re in the mood to share.

The dinner menu offers breads, entrees, pasta, risotto and main meals. Below is a selection from the Del Peco menu.

Breakfast: Classic buttermilk pancakes with honeycomb butter and maple syrup $15; corn and dill cake stack with lemon roquette, Spanish onion, roasted tomatoes, avocado, sour cream, and chilli tomato relish (vegetarian) $14; breakfast burrito with bacon, roasted red peppers, Boston beans, scrambled eggs, smashed hash browns, chipolatas, chorizo, topped with chilli tomato relish, sour cream and melted cheese $18.

Lunch: Grilled chicken and fresh tomato, avocado, bacon, cos lettuce, Egmont cheese, sweet chilli and sour cream wrap $14; open burger of grilled beef with mesculin, fresh tomato, fried egg, melted cheese, caramelised onion and barbecue sauce $16. Wraps and burgers come with beer-battered chips or a fresh house salad.

Tapas: Inferno prawns cooked in a Thai chilli jam $12; crispy cubed pork belly topped with a sweet apple glaze $12; salt and pepper squid served with a dill aioli dipping sauce $12.

Dinner mains: Crispy skin duck breast with orange glaze, poached pears, rocket and hazelnut salad (gluten free) $28; 350g beef rib eye on a bed of mash with grilled asparagus spears and port wine jus (gluten free) $32.

DEL PECO

Address: 7/50 Glebe Road, The Junction

Open: Monday and Tuesday, 7am to 3pm; Wednesday to Saturday, 7am til late; Sunday, 7am to 3pm

Phone: 49253436

Website: facebook南京夜网/pages/Del-Peco-at-The-Junction/164659240219208

Owned by: Peter Micevski

Head chef: Phillip Pearce


Greens leader Senator Christine Milne says Labor has ended the alliance with the Greens. Photo: ALEX ELLINGHAUSENGreens leader Senator Christine Milne has announced the end of the formal alliance between Labor and the Greens, but pledged to continue to vote against no confidence motions and for supply bills in order for the parliament to continue until the September 14 election day.
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Directly challenging Labor’s election pitch that it stands for ”fairness”, Senator Milne accused the Gillard government of ”walking away from its agreement with the Greens and into the arms of the big miners”.

”Labor’s priorities lie with powerful mining interests not with the people and the Greens,” she told the National Press Club, saying it was Labor – by its actions – who had effectively ended the alliance with her party.

Senator Milne said the Greens were proud of the clean energy package implementing the carbon price, the start of a national Denticare scheme and the introduction of a Parliamentary Budget Office, and attacked Labor for allowing mining in the Tasmanian Tarkine wilderness, for reducing payments to single mothers and for subsidising ”big miners” and fossil fuel exports.

She promised to ”deliver confidence and supply until the Parliament rises for the election”.

”By choosing the big miners the Labor government is no longer honouring our agreement to work together to promote transparent and accountable government, the public interest or to address climate change,” she said.

”We will not walk away from the undertaking we gave not only to the Prime Minister but to the people of Australia. And that was to deliver confidence and supply until the Parliament rises for the election.

”We will see this parliament through to its full term.”

She said ”the Greens will not add to the instability that Labor creates every day for itself”.

Responding to the speech, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: ”This is a matter for Christine Milne and the Greens. We will always be the party that puts jobs and growth first.”

Ms Gillard and her deputy Wayne Swan signed the agreement with the Greens on September 1, 2010, after the election on August 21 did not result in either major party achieving a parliamentary majority. Along with her agreements with three independents, the agreement allowed Labor to form government.

The immediate response from Labor strategists to Senator Milne’s speech was that the Greens’ message that the environment should be put before jobs could be helpful for Labor in its re-election about creating jobs.

Senator Milne insisted Labor would not have introduced a carbon price if it had been elected in its own right.

”We have a carbon price in Australia because of the Greens. If it had been Labor on its own or the Liberals on its own we would not have a carbon price,” she said.

Industry Minister Greg Combet said Senator Milne was engaged in political ”product differentiation”.

And Australian Workers’ Union national secretary Paul Howes accused Senator Milne of trying to score ”cheap headlines” in retaliation over the federal government’s decision to reject World Heritage Listing for the Tarkine wilderness in Tasmania.

”This is just a political ploy by Christine Milne because she’s upset that she lost the campaign in north-west Tasmania. Well, boo hoo. At the end of the day the federal Labor government has done the right thing for jobs,” he said.

”Frankly for Christine Milne to say that Julia Gillard hasn’t delivered for the environment after she introduced a carbon price demonstrates how out of touch with reality Christine Milne is.”

Mr Howes also questioned the practical impact of the Greens’ decision, saying the minor party had been opposing a range of Labor initiatives for some time and would still support the government on supply and confidence votes.

He said Senator Milne was ”a leader who’s struggling” with a collapse in support after predecessor Bob Brown’s retirement.

”Frankly if Christine Milne wants to rip up an agreement, excellent,” Mr Howes said.

”I’m not surprised. These are people that can not handle doing things pragmatically, these are people that cannot handing doing things sensibly,” he said.

Mr Howes said Labor and the Greens did not share common objectives. Labor stood for protecting the environment but this must be done ”pragmatically and smartly” and would not ”sacrifice jobs at the altar of Green ideology”.


WHEN it comes to pizza, it’s hard to find someone more passionate than Mark Burrell. He’s even travelling more than 12,000 kilometres to Las Vegas to feed his appetite for discovering the most unusual and newest trends in pizza.
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Burrell opened Adam’s Ribs & Pizza, on Glebe Road, Adamstown, last year and has since gained a loyal crowd of pizza lovers who tuck into his fresh, handmade range. Originally from Newcastle, Burrell spent time working in a pizza franchise in Queensland where his love for pizza and getting creative with toppings grew.

He returned to Newcastle and soon found the Adamstown site for his venture, which is called Adam’s Ribs & Pizza, partly in a nod to the suburb, partly in a nod to Adam’s rib being given to Eve and also inspired by an episode of the TV series Mash, which featured a rib joint named Adam’s.

But it was important to Burrell to make his pizza place stand out from the others in town. He wanted to produce healthy pizzas, low on oil, made with fresh ingredients.

‘‘I wanted to create a pizzeria that was totally different from other pizza places. I make all of my bases from scratch and use all fresh ingredients – I won’t compromise,’’ he said.

‘‘I have a really different menu from most of the other pizza joints in town, with more than 20 pizzas. I make the rib sauces from scratch and even spent 12 months developing them. I hope to be able to bottle and sell them soon.’’

Adam’s menu also includes a range of cheesy calzone breads, pastas, baby-back ribs and buffalo wings. There is also a monthly pizza special – this month it’s buffalo chicken with bacon and ranch dressing – in addition to the range of traditional, seafood and deluxe pizzas.

Burrell’s pick of the bunch is The L.R.B, which combines lychee with roma tomato, blue cheese and mozzarella before being topped off with capers and baby spinach.

‘‘I used to dream of having my own pizza shop. In the franchise I struggled because I had to stick solidly to what was on the menu. I used to go into the kitchen and come up with inventions like The L.R.B but couldn’t sell them to people,’’ he explained.

Burrell is planning on taking The L.R.B to the World Pizza Expo next year to take on the best pizzas in the world. He’s also heading to the 2012 Las Vegas convention next month to learn more about pizzas and ribs, rather than throwing his hat – or pizza – into the ring for the competitive elements of the expo.

In its 29th year, the event is said to be the largest and longest-running trade show serving the pizza industry, offering thousands of pizzeria owners inspiration for new products and services as well as seminars, panel discussions and live cooking and baking demonstrations.

When it comes to washing down the pizza, Adam’s Ribs & Pizza also does nothing by the book. There is Mexican Coke in traditional thick glass bottles (but get in quick because it sells like wildfire: ‘‘I had two cases and it sold out in two days’’), a number of varieties of Dr Pepper, A&W Root Beer and even bottles of Snapple. He’s also become a distributor for Jones Soda Co, an American soda range made from pure cane sugar. Choose from flavours such as Cream Soda, Orange & Cream, Grape and Twisted Lime.

‘‘Many of these drinks were never sold in Newcastle before I imported them,’’ Burrell said. ‘‘We have the best range of US soft drinks in Newcastle … it’s my little indulgence.’’

Adam’s also stocks Crows Nest Soft Drinks and famous and much-loved Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, though he’s also on the hunt for locally-produced gelato or ice-cream.

One of Burrell’s other indulgences is music. Music posters adorn the walls of the pizzeria featuring acts as diverse as TOOL and Prince. This month there is also a huge KISS letterbox under the counter, part of a competition to win two tickets to the KISS and Motley Crue show at Sydney’s Allphones Arena on March 9 (spend $50 before March 1 to go in the draw).

Adam’s Ribs & Pizza is at 548a Glebe Road, Adamstown. Visit ilovepizza南京夜网.au or call 4950 9099.

MAD ABOUT PIZZA: Mark Burrell loves what he does. Picture: Simone De Peak