Short and Sweet

Four of the finalists, President of the RAS of NSW, judges and working group of the 2022 President’s Medal


Well the Sydney Royal Easter Show is over for another year. While it kept me very busy, it was also happy and satisfying. You saw my photo with Princess Anne last week, but I have included some photos below and also the result of the prestigious President’s Medal further on in this newsletter. Meanwhile I am working to catch up on the many things I couldn’t do with such a full-on commitment. Therefore this newsletter will be short and sweet with hopefully some things to interest you.

We were so fortunate to have a mostly rain-free Show but the rain is back in Sydney and I just hope it holds off enough for me to enjoy The Phantom of the Opera on Sydney Harbour on Sunday night. Then, of course, we have Anzac Day on Monday 25th, more interviews for Tasting Success, my female chef mentoring programme and then I am thrilled to be going to Adelaide for Tasting Australia. I have had to cancel visits three times so fingers crossed for next week. Therefore, there will probably be no newsletter next Friday but I might get one out over the following weekend. You can keep up with it all on  Facebook and Instagram or email me with any requests or comments. 

I was fortunate on the Thursday before Easter to be able to get a delivery from Manettas Seafood, especially because I was unable to go to the fish markets. A few retailers added home deliveries during lockdown and have continued on. Manettas is an online and interactive marketplace bringing together the best fishmongers in the industry onto one platform so you have access to the freshness and variety of the seafood market without leaving home. They have expanded beyond just seafood, by building close partnerships with Andrew’s Meats, one of Australia’s longest serving respected suppliers, and family-owned Parisis, who have a long-standing heritage of quality and customer service in fruit and vegetables. They deliver same day in Sydney and have a premium service where you can have seafood delivered in 2 hours.

Whatever next week holds for you, enjoy.


Top: winners in the cake decorating competition at the Show
Bottom, drones making many symbols of the Show during the evening entertainment in the main arena

Read on or scroll down, remember there’s something for everyone in this newsletter wherever you are in the world.

Jump ahead to see:
Video Recipe
Recipes of the Week
President’s Medal
Sydney Royal Aquaculture Competition

South Australian Tour
Morocco Tour 2022
Puglia Tour October 2022

Video Recipe

Marinated Baby Octopus

I’m on a bit of a roll with seafood still. This Marinated Baby Octopus can be served cold, or flashed on the BBQ for a hot version. You can find both the video recipe and step-by-step instructions on my blog.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here for all my videos free including recipes in a minute. Enjoy.

Recipes of the Week

Wattleseed Anzac Biscuits

With Anzac Day coming up it’s a great time to make Anzac Biscuits but I like to include some native spice like wattleseed to acknowledge our indigenous heritage in this great land of ours. Variations of Scottish oatmeal biscuits (cookies) were made and sent to soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) in the First World War. However, the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, suggests that they were not named Anzac biscuits until after the war, when they were made and sold as fundraisers for returned soldiers. This recipe is a further evolution by Leonie McIntosh, a Wiradjuri woman from Albury whom I met when filming my Taste of Australia TV series, and incorporates native wattleseed.

If you have any Anzacs left over you could make Plums with Jelly & Anzac Biscuit Crumb.

Last Saturday, I also undertook the Chef’s Challenge on Simon Marnie’s Weekend Mornings on ABC Radio (702 Sydney). You can hear it here. One of the seasonal recipes I did, using the providores advice on what was available in the markets was Fried Green Tomatoes. The green tomatoes used are unripe tomatoes so firmer, less juicy and tangier than their ripe counterparts. You find them at the end of the tomato season when they don’t always have the warm weather needed to ripen.

There has been a cold snap down the Eastern seabord of Australia. In the Northern Hemisphere the weather is still variable so, rather than opt for a long weekend BBQ recipe, I thought a curry might be more appealing to all. Khmer Chicken Curry with Pumpkin & Snake Beans is a traditional Cambodian curry so does not contain chilli.  Green beans can easily be used in place of snake beans.

Khmer Chicken Curry with Pumpkin & Snake Beans 

President’s Medal

The 15th Annual President’s Medal.

The pinnacle of the RAS Sydney Royal competitions, the President’s Medal award is judged on a triple bottom line assessment to determine a producer’s social, economic, and environmental impact on not only the industry but their local communities.

Selected from more than 4000 entrants and 81 Sydney Royal Champions already awarded on the basis of taste and excellence throughout the 2021 Sydney Royal competitions, the six Finalists for the 15th Annual President’s Medal were:

• Shottesbrooke Vineyards – Adelaide, SA
• Pecora Dairy – Robertson, NSW
• Tathra Oysters – Tathra, NSW
• Stockyard Beef – Brisbane, QLD
• Sunshine Meats – Milperra, NSW
• Rio Vista Olives – Mypolonga, SA

Despite three finalists from the award’s home state – the most ever in one year from NSW – the medal went to South Australian entrant, Hamish Maguire, Shottesbrooke Wines, McLaren Flat, SAShottesbrooke won a trophy in the Best Single Vineyard category for its 2020 Adelaide Hills chardonnay at the 2021 Sydney Royal Wine Show, which put it in the running for this year’s President’s Medal. Hamish Maguire is Shottesbrooke Vineyard’s General Manager and Chief Winemaker, and it is his mission to build upon the legacy of his stepfather, Shottesbrooke founder, Nick Holmes. Sadly Hamish was unable attend as his daughter had Covid. Unfortunately Rio Vista olives had a similar story but they were able to be put up on screen (see photo)  and interviewed live.

It is an award that advances the concept of quality beyond taste, setting new standards in best practice for environmental, social, and economic management.
Read more on ABC digital
Family owned SA vineyard wins President’s Medal and from The Land Shottesbrooke wines claims take in President’s Medal

Hamish Maguire from Shottesbrooke Vineyard’s on screen learning of his win. Note the Governor of NSW,Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley standing on the left. You can see that the evening entertainment is over out on the main arena through the glass.

Sydney Royal Aquaculture Competition

In other exciting news for food lovers, we again were able to judge the cooked farmed prawns and oyster classes in the Sydney Royal Aquaculture Competition in front of the public at the Easter Show. We had to cancel due to Covid for the last two years and have only done it like this once before. I was again delighted to MC the event, explaining to the public what was happening and interviewing judges.

Sydney Rock oysters provided the highlight of the competition, not only due to the high standard of entries received but the incredible discovery of pearls inside two of the oysters. With odds of finding a pearl roughly 1 in 10,000, the pearls were almost as tantalising as the oysters.

Congratulations go to all medal winners and the Champion Sydney Rock Oyster recipient Australia’s Oyster Coast for their Appellation Oysters – Merimbula – Bistro.

One of the tiny pearls found in two oysters during the Aquaculture judging.

“The Judges were impressed that despite the once-in-a-century flooding in NSW and the La Nina-influenced cyclones in North Queensland, both the oyster and prawn exhibits were of exceptional quality,” said John Susman, Chair of Judges – Aquaculture Competition. “It’s exciting to see aquaculture in Australia going from strength to strength with farmers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers all enjoying the benefit of the stewardship and support the RAS and Sydney Royal provides”.

The competition, which aims to award excellence and drive the Australian aquaculture industry forward by benchmarking produce, is judged on a point-based system awarding Gold, Silver and Bronze medals to those that receive over a certain benchmark score. The Gold medal recipients in each class are then re-judged to identify each Champion product. 

You can see all the results here. Entries for the remaining Aquaculture Competition classes open in May.

Interviewing chairman of Judges, seafood consultant John Susman during the aquaculture judging

Cassoulet Confessions

 Cassoulet ConfessionsFood, France, Family and the Stew That Saved My Soul (Hardie Grant $32.99).

I’m an absolute sucker for a book which includes travels in France and food. I have any number of them and always mean to make the recipes occasionally contained therein. Not sure that I ever have though. So, despite my many bookshelves groaning with books, how could I resist one called  Cassoulet ConfessionsFood, France, Family and the Stew That Saved My Soul (Hardie Grant $32.99).

There are no pretty illustrations or photos in this book, but the author, award-winning food and travel writer Sylvie Bigar brings visions to mind with her words.  It is the story of  a simple journalist’s assignment to the French countryside which sparked a culinary obsession and more, becoming a quest for identity. Sylvie travels across the Atlantic from her home in New York to the origin of cassoulet – the Occitanie region of Southern France. There she immerses herself in all things cassoulet: the quintessential historic meat and bean stew. From her first spoonful, she is transported back to her dramatic childhood in Geneva, Switzerland, and unexpected memories. The resolution becomes her story.
While it is a small enough book to fit in your handbag, my only complaint is that the type is rather small.  You might be better buying the e-book if you have a reader. And, yes there are recipes too.

South Australian Tour
Tuesday 16 – Sunday 21 August

D’Arenburg Cube

I am thrilled that we have been able to rearrange this trip. The dates are set, and we are just tweaking a little to ensure we can offer the very best value experience.

The information on the website will be updated once reconfirmed. PH 1800 001 778 or email

Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022

Moroccan food and crockery

This trip will see us travel from Rabat the capital, to spiritual Meknes and Fes, and to Marrakech the red city. On the way you will explore the archaeological site of Volubilis, visit a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains, and relax by the coast in tranquil Essaouira. You’ll discover the delicacies of Moroccan and French food, dine in local eateries through to upmarket restaurants, and experience the making and flavours of Moroccan dishes during cooking classes. Luxury accommodation is in charming, authentic riads, sometimes in exclusivity. Only 10 – 12 guests.
Details of the adventure include:

  • Meals as per itinerary: breakfast daily, 9 lunches, 11 dinners with ½ bottle of wine per person at dinner or sometimes lunch
  • Transportation throughout in luxury air-conditioned vehicles with professional experienced English-speaking driver, including related expenses and allowing for physical distancing
  • English-speaking escort
  • English-speaking local licensed guides in Rabat, Volubilis, Meknes, Fes, Marrakech and Essaouira with all entrance fees included to the sites visited with the guides
  • Atlas excursion including mules and the specialist trek guide
  • 3 cooking classes

You can enjoy this experience from AUD $9600 per person twin share (flights from Australia not included). Cost for single travellers is AUD$10,700.

By Prior Arrangement is highly experienced and well-known in Morocco as Principal, Carol Prior lived there for 13 years and has been arranging tours there for over 30. I have confidence in working with them to bring this very special tour into being. Talk to them about the trip, or feel free to email me with any queries. I am excited!
Read Where to Eat Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in Rabat.

To enjoy the taste of Morocco at home, try my Chicken, Preserved Lemon & Green Olive Tagine.

Puglia Tour October 2022

Sunrise in the stunning UNESCO site of Alberobello

Puglia in the boot of the heel of Italy is still relatively unspoiled. A secret Italians tend to keep to themselves, it is a wonderful place to visit and so much less crowded than Tuscany. Join me and share an unforgettable week of culinary and cultural exploration. Think hands-on bread, cheese making and cooking class; visits to wineries, olive farm, tours of UNESCO sites Alberobello & Matera & other cultural centres with local guides. All sensational meals and wines included. You only need money for the very inexpensive shopping you will find there.

Group size: an intimate 8-16 places only
Lodging in authentic, family-run noble estates and palaces
Operated by: Local Puglia specialist Southern Visions Travel: the leading experiential travel company in Southern Italy
Full brochure

Read more about my adventures in Puglia
Explore Puglia in House & Garden Magazine
Seven dishes you must try in Puglia, Italy in the Sydney Morning Herald
Puglia, the undiscovered heart in Selector Magazine

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