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Heston in Sydney, jellyfish on the menu, Barangaroo needs beds; What the papers said


Gawking pedestrians, roaring traffic, flies, wasps, wind - al fresco dining is over-rated madness

I have never entirely embraced al fresco dining. I know it's fashionable, trendy and chic. But I really don't enjoy sitting at a table on the footpath, straddled on one side by bustling, gawking pedestrians and on the other by roaring and gaseous traffic. I prefer to be enveloped and insulated by walls and windows in airconditioned comfort. For me it's better inside the tent looking out, than outside the tent looking in. We are now at that time of the year when, as pre-Christmas lunches and annual catch-ups are being organised, it is common for restaurants to ask: Inside or out? Fellow guests are sometimes floored by the choice. Not me. There is no choice. Inside, please. I'm sure many people like footpath noshing. And I am not black-and-white and uncompromising about the al fresco way. There are fabulous al fresco spots on balconies, courtyards, verandas and side streets set well back from vehicle and foot traffic. The Advertiser (Adelaide), November 21.

Heston getting a taste for Sydney

Blumenthal has big Aussie plans, reports Elizabeth Meryment. One of the things Heston Blumenthal loves more than anything -- but very rarely receives -- is an invitation to dine at friends' houses. After all, who would want to have arguably the world's best chef around for tea? What would you cook? ``I'll tell you what's worse though,'' Blumenthal says on the phone from London, ``Is when I have people around for dinner. All I want to make for them is something like a bowl of pasta and they're like, `What? That's it? That's all you're going to make me?''' Perhaps it is fortunate for Blumenthal, then, that many of his friends are fellow chefs, who understand his dilemma. Indeed, it is friendship that has brought him to Sydney so often that he is considering opening a restaurant here. ``I've been coming to Australia for the last 10 years -- I'm really good friends with Neil Perry,'' he says. ``We do dinner at Rockpool for the Starlight Foundation, so I've got to know Sydney very well.'' He adds: ``I want to open in a city I love.'' Sunday Telegraph (Sydney), November 20.

Win for fast-food chains' staff

The owners of the Pizza Hut and KFC chains have failed in a Federal Court bid to develop a more flexible agreement with their employees. Yum! Restaurants and Kentucky Fried Chicken attempted to replace existing workplace awards, the product of agreements with staff, with new awards. The Full Bench of Fair Work Australia had dismissed an earlier appeal by Yum! and KFC, saying the companies had not shown their operations were sufficiently different from other fast-food operators to require a separate award, including different penalty rates and different conditions for delivery drivers and managerial employees. The Federal Court dismissed the appeals, leaving the hundreds of employees to be governed by the new Fast Food Award. The Advertiser (Adelaide), November 21.

Now count the kilojoules of a meatball sub

Melbourne fast food lovers are set to become more informed with Subway joining the list of outlets displaying kilojoule counts on their menus. The sandwich store franchise will display the energy content of its subs on its more than 1200 store menus nationwide from today. McDonald's introduced the system last week alongside offers of salad instead of chips to accompany meals. Hungry Jacks launched their own kilojoule count in October. ``Subway Restaurants' menu labelling is a positive initiative towards addressing the issue of overweight Australians and obesity,'' said exercise physiologist and nutritionist Kathleen Alleaume. Herald Sun (Melbourne), November 21.

Fancy a little jellyfish? It's just like eating some high quality noodles!

Thirty-five years ago, if my family kept a squid for the table, we were called "bloody wogs"! I never took offence to this. It was lighthearted ribbing, and knowing how to take it and give it back was all part of being an Aussie back then. Plus, in this case, I knew what a tasty treat others were missing out on, and better still, if you couldn't get out on the water, squid was very cheap back then. These days, squid is one of the most popular seafood dishes in the country and widely loved by many Australians, be they of European heritage or not. The tables were turned on me when my mate, Chinese friend Rowland Cheung, suggested I try jellyfish and duck salad at the Hellenic Club's Ginseng Restaurant. Canberra Times, November 20.

Should smoking at outdoor restaurants be banned?

The arrival of spring heralds the opportunity for Victorians to spend more time outdoors, including the chance to dine at some of the world's best cafes and restaurants. But what would make our vibrant and popular cafe scene even better is a guaranteed side of fresh air. Given the overwhelming evidence that second-hand smoke causes death and disease in people who are non-smokers, it's hard to believe that smoking is still permitted in outdoor eating and drinking areas. Tobacco smoke is made up of 50 known or suspected cancer-causing compounds. In 2006, California's Environmental Protection Agency classified second-hand smoke as a toxic air contaminant. Last year, a study in Melbourne measured cigarette smoke levels in a variety of outdoor dining locations. Startlingly, the researchers found that exposure to second-hand smoke could be as high in an outdoor setting as it is indoors. Sunday Herald Sun (Melbourne), November 20.

High-end waiters served up platter of credit fraud

New York: As if the tips weren't big enough, waiters in Manhattan's top restaurants have been exposed as footsoldiers in an elaborate scam which saw them copying wealthy customers' American Express cards. They handed the information they skimmed off cards to a mastermind, who made fake cards and then sent others out to shop for luxury items at stores like Chanel, Rolex, Cartier and Jimmy Choo. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance yesterday announced the indictments of 28 people, including alleged ringleader Luis Jacas, who provided waiters at renowned restaurants such as The Capital Grille, Smith & Wollensky, Wolfgang's Steakhouse and JoJo with skimming devices. The waiters allegedly used the small handheld devices to secretly swipe cards as customers paid their bills. They were then said to pass the information to Jacas, who had equipment to emboss fake but convincing duplicate cards. Sunday Telegraph (Sydney), November 20.

Spotless clears the air

Spotless Group has defended its rejection of an almost $700 million takeover bid by a private equity group. It also said it was not appropriate to let shareholders vote on the offer despite some of its major investors supporting the bid. At an at times heated annual general meeting yesterday, Spotless chairman Peter Smedley said the company would press on with its transformation into an integrated services company. Spotless has said a $698 million takeover offer from Pacific Equity Partners undervalued the maintenance, cleaning, laundry, food and retail services. Spotless shares rose 1.26 per cent to $2.42 yesterday, just below PEP's offer of $2.63 a share. Major long-term shareholders representing almost 20 per cent of the company's shares support PEP's offer. The Courier Mail, November 19.

A new nanna state

Grandma's house is back in fashion, writes LOUISE SCHWARTZKOFF. Tuesday afternoons often see Beth Bradey enjoying a strong, fruity martini in a basement nook on Clarence Street. At 85, she is several decades older than the usual clientele at Grandma's Bar but she fits right in with the decor - a mix of wallpaper, retro couches, crochet blankets and knitting baskets selected by her grandson, James, the bar's designer and co-owner. "It's different, isn't it?" Beth says of her grandson's design strategy. "Do you think it will attract some older people? I thought he would have wanted something more modern but he seems very happy the way it is." Her husband, Alec, who joins her for a whisky, suggests his grandson should open a second venue - called Grandpa's, naturally. Perhaps in time, if pipes and brown leather become as trendy as fringed lampshades and macrame baskets, he will get his wish. For now, though, granny kitsch is shorthand for chic. Bradey and Grandma's co-owner Warren Burns are part of a growing group of small-bar owners taking style tips from their nannas. "We wanted a place that was small and cosy and friendly and intimate," Bradey says. "We also wanted that element of familiarity and that feeling of a home away from home." Sydney Morning Herald, November 19.

Barangaroo needs beds

The $6bn development of Barangaroo should include a hotel with at least 1000 beds, Tourism Australia says. That number of beds would be four times the original proposal put forward by Lend Lease, developer of the site, for a new pier over east Darling Harbour. The company is looking to relocate the hotel following a review of the development for the NSW government. Tourism Australia's managing director, Andrew McEvoy, said Barangaroo was "one of the great opportunities to present a brand new image about our country", which needed between 40,000 and 50,000 new hotel beds over the next decade. The Sun Herald (Sydney), November 20.

Crown casino restaurant tender corrupted, manager concedes

Crown casino oversaw a corrupted tender process for an exclusive waterfront restaurant, a senior executive has admitted, raising serious probity concerns about the gambling venue. Crown's general manager of retail, Keith Nichols, has admitted that he provided prominent Melbourne restaurateur Lou Jovanovski with tender documents from rival bidders for a restaurant lease in 2009. The confidential information gave Mr Jovanovski an unfair advantage in his application for the site that was formerly occupied by Automatic restaurant. According to a sworn affidavit, Mr Nichols told Mr Jovanovski: "Don't worry, I'll make sure you get the waterfront, I know it's what you want. Uncle Keith will look after you." Mr Nichols conceded while giving evidence during a separate leasing dispute involving Crown at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last week that he had made an "error of judgment". During the hearing, Crown casino was branded a "dishonest and corrupt organisation", by lawyer Michael Pearce, SC. Despite receiving private tender documents and verbal assurances from Mr Nichols, Mr Jovanovski was not awarded the lease for the site and accused Mr Nichols of breaching a verbal agreement. He launched legal action against Crown in July last year and received a confidential out-of-court settlement. Sunday Age (Melbourne), November 20


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