After a decade as chairperson of the Hunter Culinary Association (HCA), Ben Neil will step down from the position in 2018 and hand the reigns to tourism identity Gus Maher.
Under Neil’s chairmanship, the HCA has harnessed the energy and professionalism of the region to achieve some significant milestones.
They include the introduction of annual industry scholarships including the First Creek Front-of-House scholarship, Apprentice Support Scholarships ($10K annual), Apprentice Encouragement Awards, Industry Person of Excellence and Rising Star Award and the Brett Graham Scholarship with Tafe NSW.
Neil said he was thankful to have worked alongside the enthusiastic and hard‐working industry identities who have supported the association as a committee and given their time so generously for the betterment of the region’s culinary industry.
“I have remained as chair for so long because the position was made so pleasurable and rewarding thanks to the relationships we’ve built between local operators, industry people and the HCA partners.
“For me personally, it has also been amazing to see kids as young apprentices or front-of-house professionals beginning their careers then years later taking out key HCA scholarships or competitions and going on to become some of the region’s best operators.”
Neil said he was “extremely confident” the HCA would be in good hands with Maher.
“Gus is a well‐known identity in the industry. He has worked across tourism, wine industry as well as the event and marketing industries for many years and has always had an involvement with HCA. He is a keen foodie and passionate flag waver of the region’s tourism.”
The Association in 2018 will be guided by chair Gus Maher, Lisa Margan as vice chair, (Margan Family Wines), Garreth Robbs (Bistro Molines), Clare Bremerkamp (Spicers Vineyard) and Kyle Whitbourne (Restaurant Mason Catering).