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Newcastle Herald

Food Bites: Chinese cooking is a labour of love for The Edwards' head chef Jess Brooks

MAKING HER MARK: Jessica Brooks is head chef at The Edwards, and her passion is Chinese cooking.

Head chef at The Edwards, Jessica Brooks, has been busy preparing for Sunday night's Chinese BANGquet.

It's a cuisine that is close to her heart.

"Asian food in general speaks to me. It's my favourite food to eat, I just adore it - Chinese food in particular because my mother grew up in Hong Kong," she explained.

"I always remember Mum - who was a single mother - cooking a lot of Chinese peasant food for me when I was a kid.

"There's a lot of punchy but humble flavours you can play with and that you can inject a bit of yourself into as well. It's something I really enjoy doing."

What's on the menu? Sesame prawn toast and smoked honey; duck and pickled wood-ear dumplings; drunken chicken and chilli blackbean; char sui pork belly and barbecued cabbage; sesame noodle salad and XO; and deep-fried vanilla ice-cream with miso butterscotch.

Talk about a feast. And, in typical Eddies style, it's made to be shared as conversation flows at your table. Tickets are $69 per person at theedwards.com.au.

Also, next Thursday, May 26, the Newcastle West venue will host Mercer Wines X The Edwards. Winemaker Aaron Mercer will be pouring a selection of his new-release wines and sharing a story or two. Head chef Jess will prepare a menu that complements each glass. Tickets are on sale now.

Pampa Flame pops up

Pampa Flame is "popping up" at The Corner Charlestown Square Thursdays through to Sunday, 11am to 3pm and 5pm to 8pm. Pitmaster Givago Garcia Tissot uses a Brazilian barbecue known as the parrilla to prepare his food.

Maitland Taste Festival this weekend

Maitland Taste Festival is on this weekend, an event that is always informative and fun for all ages.

Stop by The Pumpkin Precinct to browse and buy fresh local produce, Indonesian street food or spicy pumpkin soup, plus there are a range of practical children's workshops to choose from.

At the Garden Stage there will be demonstrations showing you how to make your backyard more self-sufficient.

If you're shopping for something you can cook and plate up at home, Maitland Taste is also home to gourmet food and artisan market stalls boasting local wine, spirits, tea, cheese, chutneys, condiments and cured meats.

Keen cooks can pick up a new trick or two with a range of cooking demonstrations on the Kitchen Stage on Saturday and Sunday, hosted by 2019 My Kitchen Rules champions Matt Gawthrop and Luke Stewart.

Newcastle locals Matt and Luke share a love of modern Australian and Italian cuisine, and will be sharing some of their freshest kitchen tips and tricks throughout the weekend.

"We're looking forward to being back at Maitland Taste for the second time, we were last here in 2019. It's good to be back on stage, cooking some really great food," Matt said.

"Maitland and the Hunter Valley have some of the best local produce around."

A host of local businesses - such as The Cunning Culinarian, Coquun and Tranquil Vale - will also be on the Kitchen Stage, discussing everything food and wine pairing, seasonal fruit and tasting plates.

Pop-up eateries include Fiesta Fare, a Latin American festival of vibrant food, colour, music and light; The Lost Spirits Laneway Bar featuring Newcastle Distilling Co and Gnocked Up; and The Coop, with its focus on popular chicken dishes.

Plan ahead by visiting maitlandtaste.com.au.

A Moving Feast

Speaking of Maitland, have you heard of A Moving Feast? It's a hosted walking tour of the city that showcases its developing food and small, bespoke bar scene, stopping off at four venues including Coquun, The Pourhouse and Beud Korean and Japanese Restaurant. While you walk, you will learn a little about the history of Maitland, its iconic buildings and creative arts scene.

A Moving Feast is a a public ticketed tour which runs every second Saturday night. It can also be booked as a unique, private experience.

Tickets are $125 per person and include a private tour specialist, a cheese platter and three courses, as well as a beverage at each venue. Grab your crew and go online to events.humanitix.com/a-moving-feast for details and to book.

Italy's Pantry open

Have you checked out Italy's Pantry at Wickham yet, brought to you by the team behind Napoli Centrale, Popolo Artisan Gelateria and Piazza Mercato?

Valley on a plate

Don't forget, the Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival is now in full swing and continues throughout June. Daily events include Port and Cheese Tasting at Tintilla Estate Wines; Chardonnay, Art & Antipasto at Winmark Wines; Tour of Italy Experience at Tulloch Wines; Grange vs The Hunter at Wine House Hunter Valley; and the Wine Tasting Experience at Talits Estate.

Weekly events? The Ultimate Margan Experience, The 100M Meal Experience, and Aperitivo at Margan; Let's Get Sensory at Scarborough Wine Co; Single Vineyard Experience at Tyrrell's; Hunter Deluxe Experience at De Iuliis Wines; Wine and Food Pairing Masterclass at Saddler's Creek Wines; and the Epic Tasting Experience at Hungerford Hill. This weekend's "special event" is Red Wine & Dine at Restaurant Kawul, Calais Estate. Phone 4998 7333 or visit kawul.com.au for details.

It's festival time

Head to Rathmines on Sunday for the Lake Macquarie Food & Wine Festival, which is part of this year's Fast & Loud Festival. There will, of course, be plenty of food and wine to enjoy but also music from The Versions, RoadHogs, and the Live Baby Live INXS Tribute Show; Airtime Freestyle Motocross Show and Paul Bennet Airshows; a Kids Zone; Australian Formula Powerboat Grand Prix Races and much more.

Big Fat Greek Night

The Greek Taverna at Hamilton is hosting its popular "Authentic Big Fat Greek Night" on June 4. Expect good food, live music, dancing, and plate smashing. Tickets are $70, phone 0467 678 439.

Ginger Mulletfest

We've all heard of Mulletfest - now the search is on for the best "ginger" mullet, in partnership with Bundys Ginger Beer. Enter online at mulletfest.com.au. You must be 18 and over, and you must be a natural redhead. Entries close November 1.

Freebie of the week

Regula Ysewijn's Pride and Pudding: The history of British puddings, savoury and sweet recreates 80 pudding recipes for the 21st century home cook.

Captivated by British culinary history - from its ancient savoury dishes such as the Scottish haggis to traditional sweet and savoury pies, pastries, jellies and ices, flummeries, junkets and jam roly-poly - Ysewijn tells the story of British food, paying homage to the great British pudding, which is versatile and wonderful in all its guises.

Pride and Pudding by Regula Ysewijn is out now through Murdoch Books, RRP $55. Food & Wine has a copy to give away. Send "Pride and Pudding" with your name, address and number to freelunch@newcastleherald.com.au. Entries close on Monday at 9am.