Australian Hotelier June-July 2024

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Waterview at Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park

T 2024 9- 10 SEP TEMBER 2024

Check out some of the latest products and initiatives aimed at the on-premise.

Cover Story: Lyre’s is helping publicans embrace initiatives like Dry July. 14 AGE Preview: Your guide to how to make the most out of your AGE visit. 20 Olympics 2024: The dinner and latenight trade just got a whole lot more exciting with Olympics coverage from late July.


PUBLISHED BY: Food and Beverage Media Pty Ltd

41 Bridge Road GLEBE NSW Australia 2037 Tel: 02 9660 2113 Fax: 02 9660 4419

34 Seafood: The versatility of seafood can deliver a lot for your locals, when used wisely.

38 Venue Profile: The Prince Dining Room in St Kilda unveils a new menu, with a focus on snacks and bold flavours.


6 News: What’s happening in pubs across Australia.

42 Design & Build: Surry Hills’ The White Horse reopens, and it’s a work of art.

26 Talent Show: This year’s Australian Professional Chef of the Year comp included four pub chefs. 28 Supporting Local: Sinclair’s at The Log Cabin heroes produce grown within a 50km radius of the pub.

46 Tales from the Top: Peter Morelli on what he’s learnt about guest experience.

Editor’s Note

I’VE BEEN at the helm of Australian Hotelier for nine years now, and not only am I really invested in our masthead, but I feel really invested in the industry as well. I think that pubs are the most dynamic sector within the hospitality industry – both through the sheer breadth of operational streams that pubs can offer, but also due to the agility with which publicans will evolve a venue’s operations, constantly fine-tuning to ensure that their venues and concepts are the ones people want to spend their money.

In our small way – through the pieces we publish, the insights we share, the trends and data we cover – we’re trying to help improve the industry. Our publication is a part of that, as is the Pub Leaders Summit. It’s back in

Sydney this year, heading to Sydney Olympic Park on 9-10 September.

I’m very excited to announce that this year we are also introducing the Future Leaders Scholarship, to help pub personnel looking to advance into management and leadership roles develop the skills that they need. It’s just one more way we can do our part in fostering good talent within the industry. You can find more info on the Future Leaders Scholarship and Pub Leaders Summit on page 6.d.


PUBLISHER: Paul Wootton

EDITOR: Vanessa Cavasinni


MANAGER: Jason Wild Tel: 02 8586 6213





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DISCLAIMER: This publication is published by Food and Beverage Media Pty Ltd (the “Publisher”). Materials in this publication have been created by a variety of different entities and, to the extent permitted by law, the Publisher accepts no liability for materials created by others. All materials should be considered protected by Australian and international intellectual property laws. Unless you are authorised by law or the copyright owner to do so, you may not copy any of the materials. The mention of a product or service, person or company in this publication does not indicate the Publisher’s endorsement. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Publisher, its agents, company officers or employees. Any use of the information contained in this publication is at the sole risk of the person using that information. The user should make independent enquiries as to the accuracy of the information before relying on that information. All express or implied terms, conditions, warranties, statements, assurances and representations in relation to the Publisher, its publications and its services are expressly excluded save for those conditions and warranties which must be implied under the laws of any State of Australia or the provisions of Division 2 of Part V of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and any statutory modification or re-enactment thereof. To the extent permitted by law, the Publisher will not be liable for any damages including special, exemplary, punitive or consequential damages (including but not limited to economic loss or loss of profit or revenue or loss of opportunity) or indirect loss or damage of any kind arising in contract, tort or otherwise, even if advised of the possibility of such loss of profits or damages. While we use our best endeavours to ensure accuracy of the materials we create, to the extent permitted by law, the Publisher excludes all liability for loss resulting from any inaccuracies or false or misleading statements that may appear in this publication. Copyright © 2024 - Food and Beverage Media Pty Ltd Contents Ed’s Pick CONTENTS & ED’S NOTE SPECIAL FEATURES 10
Drinks Market:
Next Month ➤ Pub Dining ➤ Family Friendly ➤ Preparing for Winter P28 4 | Australian Hotelier




In the news



The Pub Leaders Summit will return to Sydney this year, running 9-10 September at Waterview at Bicentennial Park, in Sydney Olympic Park.

On Monday 9 September, the Pub Leaders Summit will host a half-day Study Tour, kicking off in the early afternoon, which will take in some of the most exciting and esteemed pubs around greater Sydney. The Study Tour will have a limited capacity, and is exclusively available to pub operators.

The Study Tour was first introduced as a component of the Summit last year in Brisbane, with a great response from attendees who got to tour The Belvedere in the middle of major construction; The Brook Hotel right after it’s $31m renovation was completed; and the award-winning design of the Jubilee Hotel –all with the eye-opening insights of the operators of those venues.

The Pub Leaders Summit conference and showcase will be held on Tuesday 10 September. The program is yet to be unveiled, but will cover a number of pressing topics that pub operators are concerned with across the country. The full-day program will touch upon a variety of operational streams including food and beverage, gaming, entertainment, marketing and staffing. Announcements will be made in the coming weeks, but keep an eye out on the Pub Leaders Summit website for updates as well.

Alongside the conference will be a showcase of the latest products and services that will help pubs maximise revenue, increase efficiencies and bring new and exciting offers to patrons. The conference and showcase will then be capped off with networking drinks, giving peers from across Australia the opportunity to connect, catch up and share ideas.

Earlybird tickets are available now – grab yours before 31 July to save up to $100!

Visit for updates and to purchase tickets.


In partnership with our Official Training Partner, Allara Learning, the Future Leaders Scholarship will provide one winner and nine finalists with prizes that will assist in furthering their careers within the pub sector.

The Future Leaders Scholarship is aimed at anyone currently working in an Assistant Venue Manager role, equivalent specialised role or junior group role (eg. Venue marketing manager, sous chef, events coordinator etc), in pubs across Australia, looking to further their career within the sector.

“Our remit at Australian Hotelier is to provide news and insights that help improve industry operations,” explained managing editor Vanessa Cavasinni.

“The Future Leaders Scholarship allows us to make a tangible contribution in developing the next generation of pub leaders who will help to evolve and improve the industry long-term.”

The Scholarship will reward the winning applicant’s drive, commitment and passion for the industry, as well as their initiative, with prizes that will help them to further their career.

The Scholarship recipient will receive an Allara Learning leadership program valued up to $5000, with the nine other finalists to each receive a $1000 Allara Learning training voucher for the leadership program, to help them in developing their leadership and operational skills.

“Fostering our emerging leaders within hospitality and providing them with the skills and education to enhance their career opportunities, is crucial for the future success of our industry,” stated Allara Learning CEO, Andrew Lewis.

“We believe a long-term career in hospitality can be incredibly rewarding with endless opportunities for growth. Leaders can leverage their transferable skills to explore entirely new avenues within the vast hotels landscape. The potential to grow and lead is limitless!”

Applications for the Scholarship are now open, and will close at 11:59pm on Monday 15 July 2024.

The Future Leaders Scholarship winner will be announced at the Pub Leaders Summit conference in Sydney on Tuesday 10 September.

Scan the QR code on the next page for the application form and more details.

6 | Australian Hotelier

Want to super-charge your pub career?

We’re looking to give the next generation of pub leaders a leg up in the sector! In partnership with Allara Learning, the Official Training Partner of Food & Beverage Media, we’re giving away up to $14,000 in prizes that will sharpen your skills and prepare you for senior leadership roles within the pub sector.

Anyone currently working in an Assistant Venue Manager role, equivalent specialised role or junior group role in a pub or pub group within Australia is eligible to apply.

The 2024 scholarship recipient will receive an Allara Learning leadership program, valued up to $5,000. Nine other finalists will each receive a $1,000 Allara Learning voucher for the Leadership program.

For more information and to apply for the scholarship, scan the QR code below.

The winner will be announced at the Pub Leaders Summit
Tuesday 10 September. Brought to you by Introducing the Australian
alla ra learning SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT UP TO $14,000 IN PRIZES!
close 11:59pm Monday 15 July.
Hotelier Future Leaders Scholarship

Fever-Tree to elevate on-prem drinking experience with The Perfect Serve

Fever-Tree’s The Perfect Serve is a fully supported, three-year program that aims to revolutionise Australia’s on-premise market.

WORLD-LEADING PREMIUM mixer brand, Fever-Tree, is aiming to revolutionise Australia’s on-premise market by enhancing the spirit plus mixer drinking experience with the launch of its new The Perfect Serve program.

The Perfect Serve is a fully-supported, three-year program that will be brought to venues across Australia thanks to a significant investment by Fever-Tree. The comprehensive The Perfect Serve program aims to support Australia’s bars, pubs and restaurants by driving sales, enhancing consumer experiences, and ensuring brand compliance.

Andy Gaunt, Fever-Tree’s General Manager, Australia, said: “Fever-Tree’s The Perfect Serve is not just a program but an upfront commitment to the industry, providing essential support when venues need it most.

“The core objective of The Perfect Serve strategy is to elevate the Spirit + Mixer serve. Consumer insights reveal a growing preference for high-quality drinks, with 28 per cent more Australians now choosing cocktails over other drinks compared to last year.

“By emphasising the Fever-Tree ethos of ‘3/4 of your drink is the mixer’, the brand reinforces the importance of mixing with the best.”

The Perfect Serve program will incorporate education, training, incentives, menu enhancements and a range of point-ot-sale materials as part of its ‘always-on’ execution model.

The Perfect Serve highlights include: Staff Training and Incentives: Fever-Tree Spirits + Mixer consultants will host training sessions within the first 2-4 weeks of product ranging, offering incentives like instant reward gift cards and branded tools to motivate staff through mystery shops and paid trainings.

Menu Integration: Critical to the plan’s success, venues will receive menu suggestions and inserts to enhance product visibility, encourage trials, and drive sales.

Brand Visibility: A suite of branded tools will be available for venues to ensure Fever-Tree remains top of mind for both staff and consumers, supported by digital assets for social media amplification.

Gaunt added: “Fever-Tree’s ‘The Perfect Serve’ program is poised to set new standards in Australia’s on-premise market by delivering superior drink experiences.

“With a commitment to quality, visibility, and consumer

engagement, Fever-Tree continues to lead the way in the premium mixer category globally.”

Since launching in 2005, in fact even before launch, when the brand was being developed, one of the key Fever-Tree mantras was ‘there will be no comprise on quality’, with flavour and quality of the utmost importance. While customers across the world now understand Fever-Tree’s focus on flavour, The Perfect Serve program will help venues put their and Fever-Tree’s quality directly into customers’ hands.

To join the revolution or to find out more about how The Perfect Serve will be able to help drive sales in your venue, please contact: Steve Carr – Trade Marketing

8 | Australian Hotelier NEWS
Available via ALM and Paramount

Drinks Market


Creating branded beers without the brewery

While the impact of cost-of-living pressures on discretionary spending is evident, personalisation is trending more than ever as consumers seek out unique experiences and tailored offerings.

Designed to please consumer demand for exclusivity, Alehouse offers a portfolio of two easy drinking lagers to be used as house beers with personalised tap badges.

Fronted with tailored branding, Alehouse private label beers are an effective tool for publicans looking to differentiate their offering and cater to the tastes of their consumer base, without the need to master their own brewing operations.

On offer is a 4.2 per cent premium lager, and a 3.5 per cent crisp lager which is lower in bitterness and body and crafted with Saaz hops, both of which have been awarded medals at the Australian International Beer Awards and Royal Queensland Food, Wine & Beer Award.

Complementary to industry-supplied brands, exclusively branded beers create a point of difference for pub venues while delivering improved profit margins and greater control over tap space.

Sian Ryan, Senior Marketing Manager at Australian Beer Co, said: “Consistent feedback from our customers tells us that what they love the most about Alehouse is the ability to re-badge a great quality, great value beer and bank extra dollars in the till.”

White Bay launches new-to-market beer style, Extra Pale Lager

White Bay Brewery is celebrating a stellar start to the year, unveiling a new brand direction that refreshes the brand’s look with a minimalist design anchored by the iconic ‘W’ logo.

In line with the rebrand, White Bay has launched a new-to-market beer style, Extra Pale Lager, affectionately known as XPL. Extra Pale Lager is a sessionable light lager which is lower in carbs but doesn’t compromise on flavour, resulting in a well-balanced beer.

With 12 grams of carbs, 144 calories per schooner and an ABV of four per cent, Extra Pale Lager sits in its own category within the portfolio as a better-for-you “guilt-reduced” option.

Mandy Long, White Bay Brewery operations manager, says: “It’s a style that isn’t very common in the beer market, and we believe there is demand for it. It hits all the parameters for the craft beer drinker and beer drinker as a whole. Drinkable, similar to a lager with some hops on the cold side, making this beer a touch brighter and more exciting.”

White Bay’s Senior Sales Manager Jackson Davey has experience selling some of the country’s most celebrated modern pale ales, and consistently received feedback from a large portion of the drinking public that they often aren’t sessionable.

“From our perspective, the independent beer industry hasn’t nailed it with an easier option, and drinkers end up leaning on somewhat flavourless lagers brewed by multinational conglomerates due to a lack of interesting but suitable alternatives,” said Davey.

“XPL was built to be sessionable but not flavourless, hoppy but not obnoxious, and a please-all for when drinkers want to have more than two of something without battling palate fatigue.”

The biggest change for on-premise customers and consumers will be the updated tap badge to reflect the new branding, which has already been rolled out to Sydney venues.

As a relatively new face in a tumultuous market, Long says liquid on lips will be a focus for the brewery in the year ahead.

“The first step will be in-venue trade marketing assets and bar shouts from our sales team to help grow brand awareness among punters, along with staff training, brewery immersion sessions and incentives that go a long way to get the legends behind the bar serving a product they’re familiar with, and hopefully as enthusiastic as we are about it.”

10 | Australian Hotelier

Celebrate Christmas in July with Christmas Cake Gin

Christmas in July is a much-loved Australian tradition, as Aussies try to replicate the cold Christmas fun enjoyed by so many people in the Northern Hemisphere.

While the temperature doesn’t drop anywhere near as low as many in the northern half of the planet experience, it is still a great opportunity to showcase some winter warmer cocktails.

Gin might not be the first spirit that springs to mind when crafting a winter cocktail list, but thanks to Warner’s Distillery in the UK, this is all about to change with their Christmas Cake Gin.

Distilled with real dark chocolate, ginger, juniper and festive spices, Warner’s Christmas Cake Gin is expertly blended with cherry juice, handpicked sloe gin macerate and pure treacle.

Christmas Cake Gin can be served over ice with cola and a slice of orange, as a festive twist on a Negroni or Espresso Martini, or added to a hot chocolate as a warming winter cocktail.

Embracing Dry July across the bar

As we approach Dry July, Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic is encouraging publicans to think differently and encourage consumer participation by swapping spirits for nonalcoholic serves.

FOR MANY publicans, the thought of promoting Dry July is a daunting one. With the winter months well underway and drinking habits beginning to shift, July already presents a slower trading period for the on-premise without the promotion of alcohol moderation or abstinence.

While no- and low-alcohol (NoLo) consumption doesn’t start or end in July, the Dry July campaign period provides a great opportunity for publicans to feed curiosity and encourage category education.

The rising popularity of NoLo beverages is aligned with a cultural shift towards inclusivity and a more balanced lifestyle, and with 78 per cent of NoLo consumers being alcohol moderators, the social aspect of drinking doesn’t need to get in the way of supporting the cause.

According to Marc Romanin, marketing manager at Lyre’s, for those where the barrier is missing out on the social occasion, Lyre’s offers an alternative that caters to all consumers and all occasions.

“Lyre’s exists to change the way the world drinks, and through our partnership with the Dry July Foundation we hope to change the perception of what going sober for a month looks like,” he says.

“It’s a great cause, an important reason

to fundraise, and if it can introduce some people to sober curiosity or moderation of their alcohol consumption even after the month ends that is a success in our eyes.”

For NoLo consumers, being included in social occasions and on-premise activities bears significant importance, which is why Lyre’s will work with key groups and venue partners across the country to offer sophisticated, non-alcoholic cocktails, including ready-to-drink options.

“We want people to still enjoy the same great taste of the cocktails they know and love, without having to opt in for alcohol every time,” added Romanin.

For David Murphy, Lyre’s head of product development, publicans who understand how to incorporate nonalcoholic spirits and RTDs into their offering are well positioned to capitalise on this trend, whether it’s a Pink London Spritz made with Lyre’s Pink London Spirit, Lyre’s Classico and FeverTree Lemonade, or a simple swap to incorporate Lyre’s Dry London Spirit into a classic Gin and Tonic.

“Our drinks are designed to stand up to the cocktail experience at your favourite bar – from the taste and aroma to the feeling you get,” says Murphy.

“Participating in Dry July is an opportunity to try something new, a month of delicious drinks without the hangover, that can leave an impact on you beyond the month. Not to mention raising money for cancer.”

Beyond consumer curiosity, Dry July provides an opportunity to raise funds for tangible support for those impacted by cancer. Throughout the month of July, Lyre’s will partner with venues and hospitality groups such as Fun-Lab, House Made Hospitality, Trippas White Group, Mantle Group, Gradi Group, Beach House Group and more to make dollar donations from each Lyre’s cocktail sold on-premise.

In addition to the ambition to raise over $10,000 with partner venues through their Menus with a Cause campaign, Lyre’s will also donate $20,000 directly to the Dry July Foundation on Dollar Match Day.

Hang up the hangover, sign up to Dry July with Lyres by scanning below:

12 | Australian Hotelier COVER STORY
Rugby League Aussie Rules American Football Netball Cricket Golf Boxing MMA Baseball Basketball Ice Hockey Surfing Motorsport Over 50 sports Foxtel Presents An epic line-up of live sport All. Year. Round. To get Foxtel for your venue call 1300 659 466 or visit

Putting on a show

The Australasian Gaming Expo (AGE) 2024 is gearing up to be another massive one, with every facet of gaming and hospitality operations covered in this premier event.

IN THE ever-evolving world of gaming and hospitality, staying ahead is essential for club managers. The Australasian Gaming Expo (AGE) 2024, set to take place from August 13 to 15 at the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney), offers a prime opportunity to gain invaluable insights, explore cutting-edge innovations, and engage in unparalleled networking.

AGE 2024 is more than just another trade show; it’s the premier event for leaders in gaming and hospitality. With a legacy spanning over 30 years, AGE has become a cornerstone for industry professionals across Australia and beyond. This year’s expo will feature over 200 exhibitors showcasing a diverse range of products and services tailored to the needs of clubs and pubs.

Gaming Technologies Association CEO Jinesh Patel, discussed the continued importance of AGE to club operators.

“AGE 2024 is an essential platform for industry stakeholders. As always, the event provides innovation and technology advancements tailored to enhance your venue’s operations and customer experiences, helping operators stay competitive in the rapidly evolving hospitality market.”

“The AGE is not just an event; it’s a hub for knowledge exchange and industry

networking. On the show floor and in the seminar rooms, you will find answers to the sector’s most pressing issues, including regulatory changes, customer engagement strategies, and sustainability practices. These insights and tools are crucial for successfully navigating the industry’s complexities.”

“Given the challenges of the past few years, AGE 2024 is an opportunity for rejuvenation and community rebuilding. Our attendees greatly look forward to the collective atmosphere of collaboration and support, which is a hallmark of the AGE.”

Explore the future of gaming and hospitality

A highlight of AGE 2024 is the chance to discover the latest advancements in gaming technology and hospitality solutions. From the newest gaming machines and sophisticated point-of-sale systems to eco-friendly venue designs and advanced kitchen equipment, AGE provides a hands-on experience with the industry’s future.

In-depth educational sessions

AGE 2024 also boasts a comprehensive educational program designed to offer practical insights and strategies. Industry experts will lead seminars on enhancing customer experiences, navigating regulatory

landscapes, and implementing digital transformation. These sessions are essential for managers looking to keep up with the latest industry trends and best practices.

Networking at its best

Networking is a key feature of AGE 2024. The event offers a unique platform for club and pub managers to connect with suppliers, peers, and industry leaders.

The AGE Networking Lounge and themed events provide the perfect setting for building new relationships and exploring potential collaborations. Whether seeking new suppliers, reconnecting with industry colleagues, or pursuing partnership opportunities, AGE 2024 delivers unmatched networking potential.

Register for AGE 2024

Dates: Tuesday 13 to Thursday 15 August 2024

Expo Location: Halls 1-4, ICC Sydney, Exhibition Building Seminar Location: E3.1-3.2, ICC Sydney, Exhibition Building Register at:

14 | Australian Hotelier AGE PREVIEW
©2024 Aristocrat Technologies Australia PTY LTD. All Rights Reserved.

Exhibitor spotlight

Here’s a sneak peek of what some of the AGE 2024 exhibitors will be showcasing.

The variety show

This year’s Australasian Gaming Expo is almost here, and Aristocrat Gaming has a show filled with an all-star cast.

From showstoppers to superstars, there is something in the portfolio for every player and every hotel. And when we say stars, we mean super stars! They’re launching Super Grand Star which takes the best of the original (which went very well in NSW hotels) and improves it. Players will see the famous rainbow star more often, there’s a new re-spin and the free games are the same but with one extra option. Also in the star line-up will be the new Dragon Link on MarsX with bigger jackpots that players will look for. Plus, you can link your existing Dragon Links on Helix (with specific variations).

There will be more carnival fun with the full three-game line up of Jackpot Carnival Deluxe on show, and the SAP versions making their first appearance. Cash Spark - a game specifically for hotel-style players – will make its AGE debut too.

The new Cash Express Luxury Line More Chili game, Werewolf Wild, Big Fu Cash Bats and Super Splits complete a line-up that promises entertainment and excitement for everyone.

Plus not forgetting the CXS (Systems) team that will be showing the latest in venue management software and cashless offerings for gaming venues.

Aristocrat’s portfolio offers variety for every venue with a performance profile designed to be ‘stronger for longer’. In other words, games that deliver a faster return with longer-lasting, consistent performance above the industry average.

The A team thanks you for your partnership and support - they look forward to seeing you all at the show!

the new games be showcasing

Join Next Payments for its 11th time at AGE!

Explore Next Payments’ innovative range of technologies at the upcoming AGE, from its cashless gaming solution to business intelligence software, harm minimisation tools, and more!

The following products will be on display at the Next Payments stand (#840):

• Premium ATM

• TAB Enabled ATM

• Cash Redemption Terminals

• Cash Recycler

• Concilio Reconciliation Software

• EAGLEi360 Business Intelligence Software

• Cashless Gaming Solution

• GSL Loyalty Program


Be sure to register your details at the Next Payments stand to go in the running to win one of four luxurious Magnum bottles of Veuve Clicquot up for grabs.

The AGE will be here in no time! Get in early and schedule a personalised product demonstration with one of Next Payments’ dedicated business development managers by emailing

4 16 | Australian Hotelier AGE PREVIEW


Catch up with the Tabcorp team at the 2024 Australasian Gaming Expo to talk TAB, explore MAX, and see what’s in store across SKY for your venue.

Stand 130 | AGE, 13-15 August 2024, Halls 1-4, ICC Sydney

Scan this QR code to register today!

Meet us where the action is!

Raise your retail game with next-level entertainment, exclusive live sport and racing vision, and industry leading loyalty!

Tabcorp’s flagship brands – TAB, MAX & SKY – will be on Stand 130 during the Australasian Gaming Expo in Sydney to take you through the latest enhancements and innovations across the retail and digital environments - all designed with the best customer experience and value in mind.

TAB is offering punters more excitement than ever before with retail-exclusive offers and products powered by the TAB app, a next-generation retail fit-out with emphasis on unbeatable live racing and sports vision delivered by SKY, retail-led activations and partnerships, and plenty more.

MAX will be showcasing their latest collaboration with Qantum, which will see MAX’s extensive network of venues provided the opportunity to access a cutting-edge suite of loyalty solutions.

Tabcorp’s General Manager for Racing Industry and Venues, Brenden Varcoe, said: “We look forward to sharing the latest and greatest from across TAB, MAX and SKY with industry, and there’s certainly no better spot to get eyes across it and for us to hear invaluable feedback than AGE.”

Secure your spot with one of the team:

Register for AGE 2024

Dates: Tuesday 13 to Thursday 15 August 2024

Expo Location: Halls 1-4, ICC Sydney, Exhibition Building Seminar Location: E3.1-3.2, ICC Sydney, Exhibition Building Register at:

AGE visit checklist

Planning your visit to AGE 2024? Here are some insights from the AGE 2023 visitor survey.

• The expo is a significant networking hub. Plan to attend networking events and use the extensive opportunities to connect with industry peers, suppliers, and potential business partners.

• A primary reason for attending, as cited by many, is to see new products and innovations. Allocate sufficient time to explore the exhibition floor thoroughly and attend product launches.

• Take advantage of the wide range of exhibitors to discover new suppliers and solutions that benefit your business.

• Plan to spend a significant amount of time at the expo. Many attendees spent more than one day at the event, which allowed them to fully explore all the offerings and participate in various sessions and networking events.

• Attend seminars and workshops that are relevant to your interests and business needs. Ensure you check the schedule in advance and plan your day accordingly.

• Familiarise yourself with the venue layout in advance. This will help you find your way around more efficiently and maximise your time at the event.

• If you’re travelling from outside Sydney, plan your accommodation and travel early. Consider staying close to the venue to reduce commuting time.

18 | Australian Hotelier AGE PREVIEW
20 | Australian Hotelier THE OLYMPICS
The medal design for Paris 2024. Image: Cyril Masson

The ultimate tournament

The Olympics are the most renowned sporting tournament in the world, and draw global attention from sports lovers every four years. And with the Paris Olympics taking place mainly from the early evening until late in the night in Australia, pubs can make the most of the broadcast.

THE PARIS 2024 Olympics are on this winter, running from Friday 26 July until Sunday 11 August. The Olympics give sport-loving Aussies another reason to gather at pubs to cheer on Australia and other nations at this once-everyfour-years event. Held on the other side of the world, the majority of sports will run from 5pm-5am, making it perfect for your dinner and late-night crowd – particularly in the first half of the tournament.

Live sports have always presented a big trade boost for pubs, and major tournaments create even more visitation possibilities for pubs, as patrons look to get in on the buzz, camaraderie and atmosphere that can’t be replicated at home. Recently, we’ve seen how big tournaments can pay off for pubs, with the likes of the FIFA Men’s and Women’s World Cups packing out pub sports bars, beer gardens and bistros.

“Major sporting events always provide an uptick in business for sports bars and pubs like ours. We saw a nice boost during the Women’s World Cup last year when the Matildas made their run. We’re anticipating a similar or potentially even larger impact from the Olympics given the prestigious nature of the event and its huge mainstream appeal,” stated Holly McMahon, group operations manager for Applejack Hospitality.

Jason Hirt, Queensland area manager for Tilley & Wills Hotels agrees: “As we saw with our World Cup initiatives in 2022 and 2023, we’re a multicultural melting pot, and we love to see everyone out and about supporting their home country. Of course, we’re hoping to see a big Aussie crew out and about supporting in green and gold. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!”

Screen time

With plenty of different sports occurring at the same time, it’s important to have coverage of the tournament throughout your venue. Stan Sport has broadcast rights for the Paris 2024 Olympics, and will have multiple streaming channels available –including a venue-only exclusive channel.

“Stan Sport will offer four streams of live sport across 16 days, in addition to the venue-only 24/7 Channel curated to have all the best sports. If you have several channels on with ALL the live sports your patrons won’t miss a minute,” explains Tim Fishwick, commercial venues manager for Stan Sport.

“As it’s not perfect timing (5pm-5am is rough timings each day from Paris), Stan Sport offers our 24/7 Channel which will have all the action and highlights non-stop during the day until live coverage starts again.”

McMahon confirmed that Applejack Hospitality’s pubs will be playing Olympics event on multiple screens: “We plan to fully utilise the multiple TV screens across all levels of our pubs including Forrester’s in Surry Hills and Taphouse in Darlinghurst. This will allow us to broadcast a variety of Olympic events simultaneously to cater to different customer interests.”

The right mix

While the timings may pose a bit of a challenge further into the tournament, venues will need to get creative to make the most out of the Olympics frenzy.

“The Paris Olympics present us with a bit of a challenge around timing of events and finals. The key will be to engage with customers through late-

The ones to watch

Here are Holly McMahon’s picks for the sports she thinks will be popular invenue during the run of Paris 2024.

“Swimming, surfing and football (soccer) are likely to draw solid crowds given Australia’s strong traditions in those sports. I’d also anticipate good turnouts for athletics events like track and field where we typically medal, as well as audience favourites like gymnastics and diving.

“Some under-theradar sports that could be popular are basketball, if the Boomers and Opals make good runs, or rowing and sailing given Australia’s coastal culture. We’ll monitor the initial turnouts and viewership trends to double down on promoting the hottest events.”

June-July 2024 | 21 THE OLYMPICS

Supporter hubs

While the majority of your patrons will be barracking for the Aussie teams, where there’s a large concentration of people from another country in your vicinity, it’s worth thinking about marketing your venue as a supporter hub, as is the team at Tilley & Wills.

“With plenty of travellers and expats back on our shores, we’re hoping to hone in on those supporting their countries from afar,” says Queensland area manager Jason Hirt.

“We’re planning interactive activities to elongate customer dwell time and create some buzz between events within our own ‘mini-Olympics’.”

night food offerings with international flair and using social media to gauge what the customers are excited about and which events they’re keen to support,” states Hirt.

As always, getting the basics right – enough screens, volume up loud, the right F&B offer – make for the foundation of a successful Olympics trade at a pub. Hirt says The Prince in Fortitude Valley is gearing up for it.

“There’s something electric in the air when the Olympics come to town. A sense of pride and comradery always propels the energy in pubs around the world, and The Prince will be no different. We have one of the largest outdoor screens in Fortitude Valley, and big events like this help to reinforce our sporting credentials. With quality pub feeds, cold beer and a reputation for being the Brisbane hotspot to catch sports in our arsenal, we’re ready to have some fun and get loud.”

Building on that foundation with activations is also key in setting your venue apart from the others around you. The teams at Forrester’s and The Taphouse – Applejack

Hospitality’s pubs on Sydney CBD’s fringes – are going all-in with Olympics-themed activities.

“In addition to just having the games on, we’ll dress up the venues with some styling to get people hyped for their team and offer special food and beverage promotions tied to the games, and have Olympic trivia nights or other interactive activations to engage our patrons. Our staff will be trained on the Olympic schedule so they can guide customers on what events are upcoming,” explains McMahon.

And while an uptick in trade during the course of the Olympics is one goal, the larger goal for venues is turn new patrons into regulars, as the operations manager attests.

“Ideally, the Olympics activations and watch parties will drive increased food and beverage sales over the 2-3 week period, while also introducing our venues to new customers who may then become regulars. It’s a global event that naturally aligns well with our hospitality mission of bringing people together for shared experiences.”

22 | Australian Hotelier THE OLYMPICS
Swimming is historically Australia’s most successful sport at the Olympics. Image: Australian Olympic Commission
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Foodservice Inspiration For Your Pub June-July2024 Pub chefs talk new menus, new concepts and some healthy competition YES, CHEF!

High standards

This year’s Australian Professional Chef of the Year competition had four finalists from pubs, each with a passion for cuisine, competition, and creativity.

FROM 19 to 21 May, chefs across the country competed in the Australian Professional Chef of the Year competition, where they were challenged to create dishes from mystery box ingredients. Of the 32 finalists, four hailed from pubs, evidencing the high quality of food and culinary training present in pub dining today. Australian Hotelier spoke to the finalists about why these competitions are important, what skills they bring to the kitchen, and the unique features of pub dining.

Collaboration and competition

Competitions such as the Australian Professional Chef of the Year are an opportunity for chefs to put themselves to the test, and to shake up the way they work. This was the main appeal for Nicolas Liget, executive chef at Sydney’s Harbour View Hotel.

“When I made the choice to compete, it was to get out of my comfort zone. If you’ve been cooking for more than 20 years, you know what you’re doing, but you want to challenge yourself to make sure you’re still learning. It’s also good to see the other chefs around you, what level they’re at, and what they are doing,” he said.

For Tan Minh Tran, chef de partie at The George Hotel Bathurst, the competition provides an opportunity for chefs to learn from one another, as well as raising the profile of the industry.

The Surfair Beach Hotel, Marcoola
26 | Australian Hotelier CHEFS
Slow cooked meals are popular pub dining choices

“This competition is an opportunity for chefs to exchange knowledge, to learn each other’s cooking styles and cultures. Furthermore, this competition also allows more people to understand Australian cuisine,” he said.

Lee-anne Mohr, head chef at Queensland’s Surfair Beach Hotel, identified a similar benefit.

“I’m always surrounding myself with positive people, competitive people. I love competition, and you learn so much from other chefs around Australia, from how differently they cook and their different techniques,” she said.

Evan Burrows, a Melbourne-based area chef with Australian Venue Co., prefers the mystery box format of the Australian competition to similar competitions in the UK.

“In the UK, you get six weeks to plan your menu, perfect it, make it as many times as you can, and then you cook it for the judges on the day. Whereas in Australia, you don’t have anything except your knives and your recipes that you’ve been using for years. For me, that makes our competition more successful and of a bigger scale.

“What makes the competition so prestigious is chefs from all walks of life competing. Everyone is in the same boat. You have the same equipment and the same ingredients. In Europe, you’ve had weeks to practice, you can bring as much equipment as you want, and if your kitchen doesn’t have that equipment, you could be at a disadvantage. In Australia, it’s a level playing field,” he said.

Mohr noted that she was one of only four women in this year’s competition, out of a total

32 finalists. She explained that female chefs are often overlooked, or lack the confidence to enter competitions such as this.

“Women are super strong. Most of my kitchen team are women. If you give them the opportunity to speak their mind, they will come up with dishes and they can all do as well, if not better, than the male chefs. You just need to give them an opportunity. I would love for more women to get involved.”

Zest and zeal

For many chefs, cooking is more than just a job; it is also a passion. Mohr explained that she thinks of cooking as an artform.

“I see myself as an artist. When people come to see you, they feed on your art. To have clientele see your art is so rewarding,” she said.

Feedback from consumers is also important for Tran.

“The best part of being a chef is using my passion for cooking and seeing guests’ appreciation of my work,” he said.

However, the practical side of cooking is just as important for successful chefs as drive and inspiration. For example, Mohr prides herself on her organisation and ability to perform under pressure.

“Having a background in high-end dining, where I thrive in high-pressure environments, I have honed my skills in multitasking, time management, and maintaining quality under demanding circumstances,” she said.

Burrows identified a similar strength in his own work, but as his career has developed, he is developing new skills.

Evan Burrows, area chef, Australian Venue Co. Nicolas Liget, executive chef, Harbour View Hotel Tan Minh Tran, chef de partie, The George Hotel, Bathurst Lee-anne Mohr, head chef, Surfair Beach Hotel
June-July 2024 | 27 CHEFS
Menu items at The Wharf, Melbourne

A personal favourite

Chefs make the same dishes multiple times a day, but there are some that stand out among the rest. Australian Hotelier asked the finalists what their favourite item was on their menu.

Burrow’s favourite dish combines both aspects of the pub’s food and beverage offering.

“I’m really focused on seafood, and I think that the mussels really epitomise The Wharf. It uses cider in the broth, because at the end of the day, we’re a pub and we serve alcohol. It combines the front of house and back of house together in one dish,” he said.

Slow cooking was a favourite technique for Tran, Mohr, and Liget, as it enhances and enriches the flavours.

Tran uses this technique in his favourite lamb shank dish.

“First, I soak the meat in wine and vegetable stock for two to three hours to get more flavour, and then I slow cook it for another two to three hours. The balanced texture and flavour is really enjoyable for the customers,” he said.

Slow cooking elevates the beef pie at the Harbour View Hotel.

“My background is in fine dining, so what I have tried to do at the Harbour View Hotel is bring simple food to a different level. Australians love a pie, but I bring our pie to the next level of quality by using slowcooked brisket,” Liget says.

Alongside the slow-cooked beef cheek gnocchi, Mohr said that the double-fried Korean buffalo wings was another favourite dish.

“It’s a very time-consuming process, but it’s definitely worth it, and people come back asking for more.”

“My strengths have changed over the years. Now I’m in a leadership role, my strengths are teaching junior chefs and getting them to the level where they need to be. When I was a newer chef, my strengths were my organisation on the line, looking like I’ve got nothing on my bench but everything’s coming out exactly perfect,” he said.

Training the next generation is also a focus for Liget.

“For me, cooking and being a chef is a passion, but what I think I’m doing well is transmitting that to the younger generation and sharing what I have learned in the past. It’s important to transfer the legacy for the next generation,” he said.

For Burrows, a large part of training up and coming chefs is ensuring that they are comfortable with the basics, such as cutting techniques and food preparation.

“The basics are where a lot of chefs fall down. They try to run before they can walk. If you get the basics right, you’ll be a more respected chef than if you can make a really outrageous dish.”

Next level offerings

With current cost-of-living pressures, value is a key concern for consumers, especially when eating in a pub. However, Burrows explained that the expectation of quality has increased, as consumers need to see a reason for the dish’s price.

“Back when I was working in the UK, a pub meal was the next step up from home, but now it can’t be that. Now, you have to produce something that people are willing to come out and eat. The food has to be elevated to keep people excited.

“It can be a chicken parma, but it needs to be an elevated chicken parma, with five or six different types of cheese on it, and a preserved lemon salad dressing instead of just a simple vinegar,” he said.

Aesthetics are also a key part of engaging consumers, particularly Gen Z and millennials.

“Consistency in preparation and plating is important, because that provides interest for the customer. These days, customers, especially younger ones, want to experience beautiful things, and they eat with their eyes before they order,” Tran said.

Thankfully, chefs have the skills to provide quality meals at an affordable price.

“My background is in fine dining, and I want to show people you can go to a pub and get quality food, healthy food, and for a price that is accessible to everyone,” Liget said.

Creativity and innovation is ever-present in pub kitchens, as seen at the Australian Professional Chef of the Year competition. This is proof of the industry’s ability to adapt to changes and challenges over coming years.

28 | Australian Hotelier CHEFS
The Harbour View Hotel, Sydney

Where a dish comes from

Sinclair’s at The Log Cabin celebrates local farmers and growers – showcasing produce and protein from within 50km of the venue in Sydney’s greater west.

WHEN THE Log Cabin in Penrith was reopened by Laundy Hotels and their local partners in 2022 –the pub had been razed by a fire in 2012 – a more premium restaurant offer was always a part of the plan.

Group executive chef Jamie Gannon was tasked with coming up with the concept of the menu. He wanted to bring something with inner-city panache to western Sydney, that also stayed true to the local area. Thus the concept for Sinclair’s was born – a restaurant that, in each dish, would hero produce of all kinds grown within 50km of the pub.

“It was important to me because I’m all about the local growers,” explains Gannon.

“I don’t come from Sydney originally, but understanding the industry I knew that there was lots of growers in this area that have really disappeared. It’s taken me 12 months to get someone that believes in what we as a business believe in, which is that we’re always keeping the integrity of the produce as well. So it’s important as an educational piece for the area, and for our growth.”

When he came up with the idea, Gannon reached out to Luke Kohler, the managing director of Sydney Fresh Direct, one of the leading fruit and vegetable providers in New South Wales. Kohler, who is passionate about championing good produce and the agricultural work behind it, was right on board with the idea.

“I love it, because it’s exactly what I’m always trying to get people to do. Because I’ve learnt over the last 15 years what it takes just to grow something,” states Kohler.

“Use apples, for example. The passion that goes into that apple to get the premium quality or the flavour is huge. And I found a newfound respect for that apple, where I used to just see it as a commodity to be bought and sold. Not anymore. No way. There’s blood, sweat and tears going into getting that apple to the market. And I feel that that we’ve now taken Jamie and his chefs, and the front of house staff, on that process.”

When working on the menu, Gannon and Kohler visited 20 producers, whittling it down to a list of 10 producers that Sinclair’s buys off seasonally, that have bought in to the restaurant’s concept.

“They’re keen to work with us. They’re proud to come here. It’s that connection between likeminded people. And I think it’s just important for the industry,” states Gannon.

30 | Australian Hotelier MENU DESIGN
Executive chef Jamie Gannon at Sinclair’s. Imagery provided by Australian Pork

Proteins have also been sourced within the 50kms, including suckling pig and other cuts of pork from Taluca Park in the Southern Highlands. Farmers Frank and Annemarie Vigliante took Gannon on a tour of Taluca Park, where they found they were on the same page with the executive chef.

“I just think that the chefs that we work with have that nose-to-tail approach. And we don’t like any wastage of the animals there. We like the whole animal used and a lot of these chefs really do that, they use nose to tail and that’s great. We love to see their finished product,” explains Annemarie.

Location, location, location

Put into action, the Sinclair’s menu is a sophisticated take on modern Australian fare – very much the kind of restaurant you would visit in the city. Gannon said he drew inspiration from places like Bistecca in Sydney’s CBD – but bringing that higher end of dining to Penrith took some adjustment.

“Thankfully some of the owners really believed in what we were trying to do. From day one we said this is going to be a hard slog because of where we are, bringing something from Sydney over to Penrith. It’s not the norm. We’ve adjusted our pricing to try and get as far as we can, without being silly.”

The menu at Sinclair’s is peppered with items where the provenance of the produce is highlighted. Dishes include items like a 36-hour pork Scotch with Bugeja purple kale and local verde; a Windsor dry-aged duck breast with white radish and burnt orange; Arcadia free range chicken with romesco, rainbow chard and smoked almonds; or a Hawkesbury pumpkin Basque cheesecake. The backs of the menus also include an illustrated map of where the produce comes from.

Chef’s table launch

With the popularity of Sinclair’s on the rise, and with the right staff in place, Gannon and head chef Scott Mills will be launching a Chef’s Table menu in July.

With bench seating for six people in front of the Mibrasa Parrilla open grill that the Sinclair’s menu is based on, the multiple-course, share plate Chef’s Table menu will be served up for $120 per person Friday and Saturday nights.

One chef will head up the Chef’s Table session, and will cook whatever they like with the produce on hand.

On the day Australian Hotelier visited, Gannon cooked up a test Chef’s Table menu for his producer partners, which included the 36-hour pork Scotch, suckling pig, roasted carrots and a radish salad. The meal was topped off with Sinclair’s famed Wagon Wheel.

“I want it to change every night. Basically the chef will come in and, with whatever’s in the fridge, their creativity will be unleashed. The shackles are off, you just need to honour the ingredients.”

The Chef’s Table menu is expected to be a hit with some of the restaurant’s regulars, and would well suit couples wanting a special experience.

June-July 2024 | 31 MENU DESIGN
Jamie Gannon (centre) with producers (l-r) James Vassallo, Sam Grima, Frank and Annemarie Vigliante

Constructive feedback

Working with chefs all over Sydney and making weekly deliveries, the Vigliantes said that getting feedback from the chefs they partner with was critical in ensuring that their products were top quality every time.

“We really love the feedback. Frank’s out there talking to all the chefs and making sure that everything’s fine and if there’s something we can do to improve it. Is there too much fat on the pork? Is the pork too dry? We’re constantly working with the chef’s just to make sure that we’re still producing amazing produce. And those close relationships we have with them makes a difference.”

For Sam Grima, of Grima’s Farm Fresh Produce – located only 15km away at Horsley Park, having that acknowledgement on the menu comes with a sense of pride.

“It’s good to know where your produce goes, and that local people eat your produce – that we’re feeding people in Sydney’s greater west. For us, it’s a bit more than just being a grower then. You actually enjoy looking for new things and looking outside the box for the chefs.”

James Vassallo of Gourmet Herbs in Freemans Ridge agrees, stating it’s a nod of appreciation for all the hard work farmers put in to create good produce.

“It brings great pride – there’s not a lot of publicity of agriculture other than when there are shortages. Growers tend to get left out, like my mother, Jane Vassallo. My mother wakes up at 3am in the summer to beat the heat, to pick and pack. So to see our name on something makes you feel good and feel humble, knowing that everything we’re doing, someone is appreciating it.”

Diner buy-in

But do diners care? From a cynical standpoint, at the very least it’s another point of difference, another hook, to get people in the door – and in fact when the restaurant was first launched it was a hook that helped get people into Sinclair’s from all over Sydney. But Gannon feels that even if people show only a passing interest, that it makes them think a little more about where their food comes from.

“There’s people that come in now and have no idea where their food comes from. That say the cucumber salad they’re having is grown by Mary in Horsley Park, and that she’s a fourth-generation cucumber farmer. I think it makes it a little bit special,” he says.

“We’ve tried to educate as much as we can, and I think we’ve done a really good job for the area in doing that. I just think it’s important that people here appreciate what they’ve got around them.”

That being said, it’s still a night out and the front-of-house staff know not to overload guests with information.

“They’re not going to repeat the whole story, but the front-ofhouse staff have been taught about the producers we work with. And if a customer shows interest, they’ll engage with them a little on one of the producers we’re working with.”

For farmers like the Vigliantes at Taluca Park, that little bit of engagement can make all the difference.

“I think it’s great. I think people are becoming more aware of what they’re eating and where it’s coming from,” states Annemarie.

“And if people can have that access into, okay, this comes from Taluca Park and look it up and say, ‘Oh, well, you know, we might be paying a little bit more, but the quality of the products is really nice’. And they can looking us up on Instagram, or wherever, and see how the animals were raised. I think that makes a difference.”

Sinclair’s dining room
32 | Australian Hotelier MENU DESIGN MENU DESIGN
36-hour pork scotch with purple kale and local verde

Australia’s best relish range just got bigger.

Making a splash

The versatility of seafood can deliver a lot for your locals, when used wisely.

THE HUMBLE fish and chips has been a mainstay on classic pub menus across the country for many years. As iconic as the dish is, it’s just one of many seafood items that customers are opting for in venues today, leading to growing demand for the entire seafood market in Australia.

According to Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) and Australian Fisheries and Aquaculture Statistics, seafood consumption has been steadily increasing in the past two years after a challenging time for the market. SIA also notes that local seafood is accounting for a higher share of this rising consumption, as more consumers back Australian producers.

There’s rising potential predicted for the sector in the future too. IBIS World has forecasted steady rises in per capita seafood consumption in Australia over the coming five years, dependent on prices.

While such cost-of-living pressures can impact the market for seafood in some ways, it can still be a practical and accessible choice for hotel operators and their patrons, as described by Nathan Tillott, executive chef at Coogee Bay Hotel.

“Back in the day, seafood was considered a luxury because it wasn’t always easy to find and it could be pricy with all the wild catching. Nowadays, with aquaculture and smarter fishing, there’s plenty of seafood available and prices have stabilised,” he said.

Menu trends

There are a few other dishes that join the good ol’ fish and chips in the seafood pub menu hall of fame.

Chris Allison is the Queensland regional manager of Lewis Leisure, which includes The Belvedere Hotel and The Komo Hotel. He says: “Oysters always have been quite resilient over the different economic climates in the last 25 years that I’ve been in the industry. Price fluctuates obviously but there’s always a demand for oysters and there always has been.”

Other ingredients that consistently perform well include prawns and calamari, with Allison also saying that some seafood trends can be quite cyclical, as price, availability and consumer tastes fluctuate.

More current trends can be seen on the new coastal and seafoodforward menu that The Belvedere Hotel has launched in its recently renovated waterside location. Lobster features in many dishes, intended to be a point of difference for the venue as a spin on traditional pub seafood that caters to the tastes of local consumers.

34 | Australian Hotelier SEAFOOD
The seafood platter at The Belvedere

“We’re doing a lot of lobster, as a premium item, but we’re still making it accessible rather than selling whole lobster, which doesn’t really suit our market,” Allison explained.

“We do an oversized lobster pie for one, which creates that premiumisation of the pub experience, but it’s reasonably priced. Then there’s a lobster and prawn pasta… and a lobster and gambari pizza.”

Lobster also features in the hotel’s higher end seafood hamper, a two-person platter that Allison describes as “pure unadulterated seafood”.

The Coogee Bay Hotel has also recently launched a new seasonal menu at Marra Bar & Grill reflecting the latest trends and tastes in seafood. Tillott said these trends revolve around local and vibrant flavours, moving away from the expected dishes and techniques.

“We’ve got quite the spread of seafood here in Australia. It’s really something to see menus getting more daring, moving away from the usual fish and chips. When chefs start playing with whole fish and adding things like WA octopus, you can tell they’re all about keeping things vibrant and fresh,” Tillott said.

“Our dining scene is definitely evolving, highlighting not just our amazing seafood but also how our tastes are shifting.”

Tillott notes that hotel chefs have an exceptional opportunity to use what is in our own backyard to create delicious dishes that deliver on what consumers are looking for - simple yet elevated meals.

“Respecting great seafood means keeping it simple… It’s a testament to Australian seafood’s excellence that it can be enjoyed in such a straightforward yet delicious way,” he said.

Battle of the proteins

The versatility of seafood means it has wide ranging appeal to consumers, for a number of reasons. Allison notes that cost is a big comparison point against other proteins right now, with seafood not necessarily being the most expensive on the market anymore.

“I think [seafood] is competing against the beef market, in some ways. Beef is actually becoming quite expensive in the post-COVID period, becoming more and more of a premium item that some pubs may not have on their menu, especially as consumers start looking more at alternative proteins,” he said.

Consumers looking at alternative proteins may be considering their health, which is somewhere that seafood can have the upper hand.

Tillot said: “As people are prioritising their health, seafood stands out as a top choice. It’s rich in protein and often lower in saturated fats than many meats, making it ideal for those cutting back on meat for health reasons. Plus, seafood packs essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, adding to its appeal as a nutritious protein option.”

June-July 2024 | 35 SEAFOOD
Octopus with roasted peppers, olives and chorizo at Marra Bar and Grill

Versatility and accessibility

A study in the International Journal of Consumer Studies reports that the leading drivers of seafood consumption in Australia are health, taste and convenience, while the main barriers include price, availability, and concerns about quality. This is why it’s important to think about the versatility and accessibility of seafood in the pub setting.

Seafood can be used in a wide range of ways to meet the needs of consumers and break down barriers to entry. As Tillott said, it’s not just about the extravagant options: “With better practices and more awareness of its health benefits, seafood is now a practical choice for everyday meals, not just special occasions.”

It’s not even about the main course either. Allison said: “You can just have a seafood entree and then have something else for your main. I do think seafood is versatile in that way, it can end up in any course, in any size, in any format.”

The key is to ensure that the seafood on your menu is an easy choice that diners can trust will be delicious and high quality, and that will suit their occasion and perception of value. The more premium seafood platters, for example, can be marketed to occasions, while value-focused variations that use smaller portions of seafood can be marketed for everyday enjoyment.

“If you’re versatile with seafood, then there’s probably something you can put on your menu that’s attainable for anyone who’s made that decision to come into the venue,” said Allison.

The best use of seafood

The most impactful use of seafood on a pub menu is one that takes your local diners and your venue into consideration.

“It’s important to cater to diverse preferences among Aussie diners, offering both quantity and premium options without compromising on quality. Providing a balanced menu lets guests choose according to their taste and budget,

ensuring satisfaction all around,” says Tillott.

Not every pub menu will be suitable for every seafood dish, when you consider location and cost. As Tillott says: “Having seafood by the beach really amps up the dining experience.”

But for other venues, it may not have the same impact, as Allison said: “You have to use it wisely. Some people will just say it’s too expensive and that’s a valid decision. There’s a lot of menus, that you question - do they really need to have seafood on them?

“It’s influenced by the expectation of the customer. For one venue, they might assume they’re going to find two to four great cuts of beef. For a waterfront venue, they’re probably going to expect more seafood. Country hotels may not have the same expectation.”

As with every item on your menu, it all comes down to execution. There’s a lot that seafood can bring to your venue, if it is executed in a way that your locals will love.

Offerings of seafood at different price points means a larger pool of patrons can enjoy some form of the protein
36 | Australian Hotelier SEAFOOD
Coogee Bay Hotel executive chef Nathan Tillot

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Food fit for a prince

Melbourne’s The Prince has unveiled its new menu at Prince Dining Room, highlighting Victorian produce with bold but balanced flavours.

PRINCE DINING Room unveiled its new menu at the beginning of May, offering unique snacks, woodfired dishes, and a convivial atmosphere.

Curated by The Prince’s food and creative director Mitch Orr and head chef Ben Parkinson (ex Pipi’s Kiosk), the updated menu is an example of the high-quality food available in pubs today.

Orr explained the reasoning behind undertaking the refresh of The Prince’s food and beverage offering.

“The building felt like it was ready to bring in a new era. There’s a reenergisation that’s underway in St Kilda at the moment, and The Prince really wanted to be a part of that. As such an iconic St Kilda venue, it’s important to be leaders and to be a force bringing the area back to life.”

Many of the dishes in Prince Dining Room are designed to be shared, which is a favourite serving

style for both Orr and Parkinson, as well as for many diners in the post-pandemic era.

“It’s been a few years now, but when people first went back to dining out, there was definitely a big push from people who wanted to go back to dining out with friends and enjoying the ability to do that as an inclusive, intimate activity, whether it be with your partner or whether it be with a group of friends,” Parkinson said.

This contrasts with the bar menu, which offers single dishes of handmade pasta and a different service style.

“The dining room is a little bit more serene, and a little bit more engaged in terms of service, whereas the bar is that casual spot. It’s buzzy, full of energy, with casual service. It’s the kind of place that you can come in three times a week and just have a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine,” Orr said.

38 | Australian Hotelier VENUE PROFILE

Superior snacks

When describing a great snack, Parkinson first emphasised the importance of a textural element to engage as many senses as possible. He also prefers snacks to be handheld, both for convenience and experience.

Punchy flavours are a vital element, as the snack needs to deliver on taste despite its small size.

“That doesn’t mean it needs to blow your head off with chili or that there should be too much going on. It should just have a very defined flavour profile,” Parkinson said.

Finally, the biggest sign of a great snack is a moreish quality.

“It should be tactile, it should be flavourful, and leaves you thinking, I want another one.”

There is also an elevated snack selection, with dishes such as crumpets with anchovies and smoked butter, or crab cocktail served with Arnott’s Savoys. Snacks allow guests to engage with a greater section of the menu over the course of a single visit, as Parkinson explained.

“It gives guests the ability to try more, taste more, see more. It’s why we also have a medium-sized selection of half-size 60mL cocktails, so you can have a couple of different cocktails without drinking too much.”

An extra dimension

In the kitchen, Parkinson sees his role as highlighting and enhancing the flavours of the ingredients which he has sourced. One way he does this is with the woodfired grill, which is used across the menu.

“We’re really lucky to have the woodfire oven and grill, so they will play a massive role in the flavours and techniques we’ll play with at Prince Dining Room,” Orr said.

Parkinson aims to use elements of smoke and char to add depth to a dish, rather than overpowering the other flavours.

“There was a turning point in my career when I realised that smoke can be subtle. It doesn’t have to be aggressive, it doesn’t have to be in your face. Fire is also a wonderful element to cook with, as long as you understand there’s so much more to it than the single dimension of putting something straight directly onto fire,” he said.

June-July 2024 | 39 VENUE PROFILE
The Prince Dining Room focuses on share plates

One menu item that Parkinson feels represents his careful use of flame is the orange cake with burnt citrus and chocolate mousse.

“It’s actually my grandmother’s orange cake recipe. I wanted to highlight citrus, but in a way that went beyond the one-dimensional fresh, zippy citrus flavour. By burning the orange, we give it some dimension and depth, and all of the sugars intensify,” he said.

The relationship with local growers and producers is of great importance to The Prince team. Local produce can be seen across the menu, particularly in the grilled David Blackmore wagyu skirt with yuzu kosho, and braised farm fresh mustard greens with hazelnuts.

In the past, Parkinson has taken inspiration from the way growers cook their own produce at home, which provides a new perspective on the ingredients.

“I see the relationship with growers as a symbiotic one. You can’t shut yourself off from them suggesting things. What excites them is generally going to excite me. If I have a grower that’s excited about a new seed or crosspollination, I know the product is going to be phenomenal, and it’s just up to me to work out how I can utilise the ingredients to show off their work.”

Serving up satisfaction

The response to the menu refresh has been overwhelmingly positive. Parkinson was pleasantly surprised by the response to the grilled duck heart skewers and the ice cream cake. While Australians are becoming more familiar with offal, Parkinson was still unsure if diners would be comfortable with duck hearts.

“So far though, there has been a big uptake with this dish. I think it’s because we’ve done it differently. It’s a snack, it’s one or two bites. Even if people don’t think it’s to their tastes, they can still enjoy trying it,” he said.

With the ice cream cake, Parkinson was concerned about releasing a frozen dessert just before the beginning of winter. However, it has been a runaway success.

“We did our first soft opening, and every single table ordered it, and it has been that way ever since. I forgot that basically, everybody is a child inside. Most people had the McDonald’s ice cream cake in the 90s, so there’s that nostalgia attached to it, and generally, everybody just loves ice cream,” he said.

Orr also commented on the positive reaction to the menu.

“It’s really encouraging to see the dining room full of happy faces having a really good time. Hopefully we can continue building on it and making more people happy.”

The wood-fire grill plays a large role in the menu Mitch Orr and Ben Parkinson
40 | Australian Hotelier VENUE PROFILE
The cocktail menu includes 60ml half serves
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A work of art

With the White Horse, Craig Hemmings has created an art-filled sanctuary that is all about affordability.

A YEAR since its closure, famed Surry Hills pub the White Horse has reopened following an extensive renovation, bringing a sense of minimalism and a strong art focus to the 170-capacity venue.

Encompassing a ground-floor restaurant, firstfloor public bar, alfresco terrace and private function room, the transformation of the White Horse was steered by a team of hospitality veterans, led by director Craig Hemmings (Bilsons, Quay, Chin Chin Sydney and Bistro Guillaume), and curated by designers Farago Han Studio.

Bringing a sense of casual luxury to a Surry Hills landmark, Hemmings says: “We’re thrilled to bring this old girl back to life. We’ve approached the White Horse with a contemporary lens, elevating the offering without the price tag.”


When he first took over the venue, Hemmings found the space to be reminiscent of venues he had previously worked on in Melbourne with the Lucas Restaurants group. Though Hemmings has stepped

away from the glitzier style of those spaces, he took inspiration from the heavy art-influence at Melbourne restaurant Kisumé.

Explaining the decision to lead with an art focus at the White Horse, Hemmings says: “I thought it was maybe too risky, but I enjoyed the artwork [at Kisume] and how it really changed the whole ambience of the place. So, down here has a very strong art focus.”

And the Melbourne influence doesn’t stop there. Unlike many Sydney venues, the redesign of the White Horse has seen the public bar promoted from ground level to the first floor, meaning patrons will pass through the restaurant before ascending to the bar area.

“When you walk in, you walk through and see the artwork, which is going to glow a tangerine pink and seep through. It’s good because everybody going to the bar has to walk through this busy section of music, people, the guys making the drinks. Everyone is on show,” added Hemmings.

“When you come in and see the artwork, you’re not going to forget it. It’s just like a Melbourne shop in Sydney. This is very Melbourne.”

The first floor public bar
42 | Australian Hotelier DESIGN & BUILD
The restaurant bar


The reinvented venue honours the pre-colonial past of Surry Hills, using flashes of colour, bold artworks and luxurious furnishings to reimagine the hospitality space.

The works of Belgian artist and designer Axel Vervoordt heavily influenced the design brief, and Farago Han Studio adopted a similar aesthetic in the raw space, where each corner is designed to tell a different chapter of the same story.

To create a sense of arrival on entry, there is a dimpled 70s-style glass partition, leading into the art-filled restaurant. Paying homage to the sand hill that once stood nearby, microcement, Marmorino lime plaster and French wash paint the walls of the the dining room and instil a gritty texture.

On the ground floor, large-scale paintings, smaller artworks and sculptural 3D ceramic and glass works have been selected by art consultant Mark Hughes to bring some warmth to the neutral walls.

“It’s been very satisfying to see the pleasure our guests get from the artwork,” stated Hemmings.

“The design was intentionally residential to convey comfort and the art placement is a key component in establishing that ambience. The fact that guests resonate with the design of the

restaurant and highlight the artwork is gratifying.”

The restaurant has been fitted out with custom tables made from reclaimed French oak by Salvage Europe, Danish Fredericia Mogensen oak finish chairs, CULT paper cord seats and locally made Jardan Gus sling leather chairs, complemented by accents of timber, custom carpets and travertine tiles.

Moving upstairs, a sense of Abstract Expressionism is reflected in the use of block colours throughout the public bar and alfresco seating area.

Wrapped in forest green tiles, the bar becomes a focal point of the interior space, where a more neutral colour palate is introduced to create a sense of calm. Contrasting the French wash walls and ceilings is navy blue coffee tables and custom powder blue timber veneer joinery which forms a lounge banquette and ledge seating, while a custom gilded wall covering by De Gournay hangs behind the bar.

Out on the terrace, large scale plants such as dragon trees, false aralias and banana leaf figs, and smaller leopard plants and Chinese astilbe, offer a continuation of the airy aesthetic seen indoors, completed with dining chairs, armchairs and terracotta stools and side tables.

On the horizon

Later in the year, the White Horse will open an intimate function space on the first floor, where the lines between art and function are blurred. Designed to seat 30 people, the private bar is totally self-contained and will include a private bartender.

Hemmings said:

“I think it will be popular, to have your own bartender in Sydney for a space for 30; you just don’t see it. We’ll have beers on tap, cocktails on tap, whatever they want.”

And when the private function area isn’t being hired out, it will flow into the other zones, offering a hidden surprise.

June-July 2024 | 43 DESIGN & BUILD
The restaurant space (l-r) Craig Hemmings, Maureen Er and Jed Gerrard


Though the design is far from it, Hemmings says that the direction for the food and beverage offering was to create a “low-key, local pub”, marrying quality produce, a highly skilled team and affordability.

Rounding out the all-star team is executive chef Jed Gerrard (Wildflower, Ritz-Carlton Perth), wine consultant James Audas (Lo-Fi Wines, Bar Heather), cocktail consultant Michael Chiem (PS40, Bulletin Place, Sokyo) and general manager Maureen Er (Manly Greenhouse, Tetsuya’s, Cho Cho San).

Hemmings first worked with Gerrard at Black by Ezard, and with countless accolades behind him, his talent is well-recognised in the world of dining.

The focus of Gerrard’s restaurant menu is ethically sourced produce and native ingredients, and while it might appear simple at first glance, the dishes are designed to reveal their cleverness as the meal unfolds.

Emphasising the importance of affordability, Hemmings says: “Prices for mains will be $30 to $45, and this is a guy who is doing mains from $45 to $145. We’re going to use his skills to offer prime cuts if you want it, but also secondary cuts.

“I come from the world of three hats, and it’s easy to be caught up in, if you get the best ingredients possible, put a sauce and garnish on it and you can charge $85. If you get something and try to make it $35 and also make it amazing, it’s much, much harder. So that’s what we’re going to try.”

Highlights from the menu include smaller dishes such as smoked eel dip with vegetables and veal tongue French toast, along with mains such as toothfish glazed in squid ink and Berkshire pork jowl with sugarloaf cabbage and nashi pear.

The same high standards can be found on the wine and cocktail lists, but again, at a level that is affordable. Chiem’s cocktail menu includes options such as the Bizzarro x PS40 Strawberry and Yuzu Spritz which is on tap at $17, while the wine list features 30 wines under $80.

“The idea was to make it a local, but can we also make it a little bit luxe. You walk up to the public bar, get your drinks and come and sit outside, with James’ wine list, the beers will be cold, and Michael’s cocktails,” said Hemmings.

“It’s loud, noisy, fun, local, but a little bit glamorous. Because that’s what we’re reading every day, people want more bang for their buck. We made this decision [on the concept] 18 months ago, and I think we were right.”

Dishes by Jed Gerrard
44 | Australian Hotelier DESIGN & BUILD
The first-floor courtyard

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Creating an atmosphere of excellence

Peter Morelli has taken on the role of venue manager at Coopers Brewery, where he will enhance customer experience at the new Regency Park visitor centre.

WITH CONSTRUCTION underway at Coopers Brewery’s new $70 million Regency Park development, Peter Morelli has been appointed as venue manager at Coopers. The new development includes a restaurant and bar, tasting room, interactive history display, merchandise store, and a large outdoor dining area. Morelli’s role will be to ensure quality visitor experience through all areas of the venue.

Morelli has had a successful career in hospitality, as recognised by his induction into the Restaurant and Catering Association of Australia’s Hall of Fame in 2015. He has already headed up more than his fair share of impressive venues, including prominent cellar doors like the d’Arenberg Cube in McLaren Vale, and Penfolds Cellar Doors at Magill Estate and in the Barossa Valley. In addition, he has held roles at the Lion Hotel, SkyCity, and Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

When it comes to exemplary customer experience, Morelli believes that it starts at the first point of contact.

“A positive customer experience needs to start at the initial contact with a clear,

concise website and the ability to call and discuss any questions with a staff member. Staggered bookings, tours and ordering allow for smooth service delivery and enhance the visitor experience,” he said.

This initial experience will be confirmed when customers enter the new Coopers venue, with a curated food and beverage offering, attentive staff, and a welcoming atmosphere.

“Visitors will certainly notice the wow factor when they arrive here. The unforgettable experience will focus on icecold beers, top-quality food, an enjoyable atmosphere and fantastic service. We want guests to tell their friends and family about it and make it the place they bring visitors from interstate and overseas,” he said.

When starting at a new venue, Morelli’s first focus is on developing the staff, as they are crucial to visitor experience.

“Building a team to deliver a high level of consistent service and quality food and beverage experiences is essential to business success. Empower your staff to make decisions so they can enhance the level of engagement between customers and your venue, which creates a pool of

brand ambassadors who are more likely to become repeat customers,” he said.

Of course, beer will also play a significant role in the offering at the new Cooper’s venue.

“We are focused on highlighting the quality of our beers served in pristine condition at the home of Coopers. Incorporating Coopers beer into our signature dishes will be a focus for the kitchen and front of house teams,”

Morelli said.

Prior to the venue’s opening in August, Morelli is currently focused on building the venue’s team, with 24 new positions needing to be filled.

“There’s a lot of excitement about what’s taking shape at Coopers Brewery. This is a rare opportunity to join a great South Australian family company and work in an iconic tourist attraction,” he said.

“We’re looking to assemble a team of people who love beer, quality food and great service. Our ideal team members are prepared to learn and grow with us as we strive to establish Coopers as the best beer destination in Australia.”

46 | Australian Hotelier TALES FROM THE TOP
Peter Morelli, venue manager, Coopers Brewery

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