Five-starmeal at budget prices

By DAWN COHEN

WHEN award-winning chef Gerhard Spatz left a five-star international hotel for a job at the Ballina RSL Club, his colleagues said he was committing professional suicide.

They changed their minds on the weekend when the 36year-old won a gold medal at the prestigious Clubs NSW 2005 Chef's Table Award.

Mr Spatz and his chef de partie, Nathan Sherwood, won the competition for an original three-course menu, designed for 20 to 30 diners at no more than $20 a head.

Judges observed their preparation and service at a celebrity dinner six weeks ago, noting food quality, kitchen skills, service, speed and hygiene.

"I am shaking when I think about it now," said Mr Spatz on Monday, after returning from the presentation night in Sydney. "I was happy enough with having made it to the short list of 12."

The father-of-two left the helm of the luxurious Cyprus Lakes Resort kitchen in the Hunter Valley so he could spend more time with his children.

"Being Ballina RSL Club executive chef is also an opportunity to really make a difference," he said.

"We are changing people's perceptions of club food, showing it can be a gourmet dining experience."

What is the secret ingredient in the win?

"We love what we do," said Nathan Sherwood. "It comes out in the food."

For $42.50, you can tastetest the winning meal of won ton duck, loin of lamb and parfait of white chocolate and Malibu, with accompanying wines, at A Chef's Table Celebration Dinner on Friday, June 24, at Spinnakers Restaurant in the Ballina RSL Club. Call 6686 2544 to book.



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