Top chefs go head to head in annual Food Fight battle. Grab your ticket today.

READY FOR BATTLE: Chefs Joel Bickford and Mitch Orr. Picture: Dominique Cherry

READY FOR BATTLE: Chefs Joel Bickford and Mitch Orr. Picture: Dominique Cherry

The annual Food Fight is one of the highlights of the Hunter Region’s culinary calendar. 

In a nutshell, four top chefs “cook off” in an attempt to win the popular vote and raise money for two sought-after hospitality scholarships.

This year, Frank Fawkner (EXP. restaurant), Joel Bickford (Aria), Mitch Orr (ACME) and Hamish Watt (Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley) will go head to head and create one lunch course each. Their brief? To create a dish that is “a new twist on a classic” – in other words, their own interpretation of a classic dish or flavour combination.

Each course is matched with a Hunter Valley wine, and guests will vote for the dish they preferred at the conclusion of lunch.

The gastronomic experience is not only memorable but a lot of fun. There are some unique prizes and dining experiences up for grabs in the charity auction, not to mention bad jokes and a lot of laughs. 

The Food Fight is organised by the Hunter Culinary Association and raises money for the Brett Graham Scholarship, one of several offered by the association to give young chefs the opportunity to work with Brett Graham in London at his Michelin-starred restaurant, The Ledbury. Another scholarship is offered to front-of-house talent. 

Frank Fawkner and Mitch Orr. Picture: Dominique Cherry

Frank Fawkner and Mitch Orr. Picture: Dominique Cherry

Chairman Gus Maher says the Food Fight has allowed the scholarship to grow from covering just the cost of a recipient’s flight to an additional $10,000 prize, which can make a huge difference to a young chef’s career development. Previous scholarship winners include Troy Rhoades-Brown and Chris Thornton.

“The Hunter Valley is the birthplace of the Australian wine industry so it’s the perfect setting for a contest that marries the old and the new. And when we have four chefs of this calibre given free rein to put their individual stamps on dishes like these, you know the results will be incredible. Combined with the use of fresh, locally source ingredients and delicious Hunter Valley wines, it’s a winning formula that will see guests enjoy an unforgettable culinary experience,” deputy chair Lisa Margan says.

The 2018 Food Fight is being held at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, Pokolbin, on June 18. Tickets cost $175 for Hunter Culinary Association members, $220 for non-members and $90 for apprentice chefs. Bookings are essential by emailing For more information, go online to The fun kicks off at 11am with canapes and drinks. 

This story Annual cook-off a must for food lovers first appeared on Newcastle Herald.