August 26, 2016


In the quest to determine Australia’s top home cook and find a winner for the Talented Home Cook category of Luke Mangan’s Search for a CEO (Culinary Experience Officer) campaign, which marks Luke’s milestone of becoming the first restaurateur in the world with dishes served on land, sea, air and rail following a recent partnership with Eastern & Oriental Express, a lunch was held recently at Luke’s global test kitchen at MOJO in Danks Street, Waterloo.

Five amazing individuals presented their dishes to the eager diners who had the enviable task of trying each course and at the conclusion of service, vote for their favourite.

Canapes & Amuse Bouche by Michelle Walsh. Spicy prawns and avocado with chipotle mayonnaise and crispy vermicelli was the first item to tempt our tastebuds, followed by pistachio dukkah prawns with almonds, pomegranate, mint and yoghurt dressing.

Starter by Sofia Levin of beetroot cured kingfish with citrus and fennel salad, avruga roe and horseradish cream was delicious.

From the Sea by Tristan Lutze was a delicate combination of scallop with miso and wasabi.


Off the Grill by Laura Blanot presented herb crusted lamb with chimichurri sauce, fresh gnocchi and mushroom puree.

Dessert by Sammy Jakubiak of a unique cheesecake with amaretto and orange, was a delightful finale.

Chosen by a panel of judges including P&O Cruises President Sture Myrmell and a popular vote on the day, Luke Mangan has hand-picked two talented home cooks and foodies, Sammy Jakubiak and Sofia Levin, as shortlisted finalists in his Search for a CEO (Culinary Experience Officer) campaign. The two winners will now create a dish each to be available in all Salt grill restaurants onboard all five P&O cruise ships.

Sammy commented “I’m excited for the chance to create a dish with one of Australia’s biggest foodie personalities. I can learn so much from Luke!”, while Sofia said “Cooking kingfish for Luke, the crown prince of kingfish, was a gamble, evidently one that paid off! I’m honoured to be through to the finals and keen to see what I can create for P&O.”

Luke went on to say “The standard of home cooks here in Australia is exceptional; a product of the passion and produce this nation has on tap. So much so we couldn’t pick just one! The huge pool of outstanding Australian expertise in the food and beverage industry has really shone through during my search for a CEO, with a huge amount of applications showing amazing talent from across the country. The aim of the campaign is to showcase what Australia has to offer to an international audience, via my network of restaurants and brand partnerships.”


Luke opened his first restaurant at sea onboard a P&O Cruises’ ship in 2009 and now has a Salt grill onboard each of the cruise line’s five ships. His next Salt grill will launch in June 2017 when P&O’s latest ship Pacific Explorer debuts in Sydney.

Sammy and Sofia join Luke Ashton who won the Tourism Australia cocktail phase and the yet to be decided Artisan Supplier.

The crowned CEO will be awarded with tasting and travel experiences at Luke’s international restaurants, across P&O Cruise Ships, Virgin Australia and Eastern & Oriental brand partnerships in October. 

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond

Photo Titles: 1.  Luke Mangan, Sofia Levin, Sture Myrmell & Sofia’s Prize Winning Dish  2. Luke Mangan, Sammy Jakubiak, Sture Myrmell & Sammy’s Prize Winning Dish  3. Luke Mangan & Sture Myrmell with Finalists



August 26, 2016


Making his Australian debut, Japanese/American violin star, Shunske Sato, will lead the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra into the rarely visited territory of historically informed Romantic music, performed on gut strings. Together they’ll perform music of the Romantic giants Mendelssohn (a symphony written at the age of 12), Grieg (Romantic music inspired by the Baroque) and an epic and rarely heard violin concerto written by one of history’s greatest and most revered violinists, Paganini.

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s Artistic Director, Paul Dyer commented: “Shunske Sato is a brilliant international talent, one of the most dynamic and exciting violinists of his generation.  He’s performing the Paganini Violin Concerto No. 4 on gut strings. Who does that? It is something only the bravest of the brave would dare to tackle!” Shunske said: “The violin I will be using is made by Auguste Bernardel in Paris in 1846, in those days it was quite the fashion to copy Paganini’s Guarneri violin Il Cannone and my fiddle is one of those, so quite appropriate to play his Concerto on it.”

Born in Tokyo, Shunske immigrated to the USA at the age of four, but now lives in The Netherlands. At the age of 12 he won the Young Concert Artists award, the youngest ever to date. He studied at the Juilliard School (New York), Conservatoire National de Région (Paris) and Hochschule für Musik und Theater (Munich). Shunske is the concertmaster for Concerto Koln and the Netherlands Bach Society and in 2013 he was invited to join the faculty of the Amsterdam Conservatory, where he teaches violin in the context of historical performance practice.

Shunske is enthusiastic about his Australian debut, saying “This will be my very first time in Australia, and there’s simply too much to look forward to. There is the famously flawless coffee, and the odd encounter with an exotic animal of course and I have many dear and close Australian friends and am terribly excited to finally get to know their home country. I’m also incredibly honoured to work with such a world class ensemble as the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra on my very first trip. Starting at the very top and going upwards!”

Sato & The Romantics will be performing at City Recital Hall, 2 Angel Place Sydney on 7, 9, 14, 16 & 17 September at 7 pm
plus a Matinee on 17 September at 2 pm.

Sandra Tiltman


August 21, 2016

The natural wonders of Kangaroo Island, a Murray River cruise aboard paddlewheeler PS ‘Murray Princess’ plus a tour of the world renowned wine regions of the Barossa and Clare Valleys are included in SeaLink Holidays new “Highlights of South Australia” 9 day escorted tour, departing 24 March 2017.

The tour is escorted by well-known South Australian, Shirley Tamm, with over 35 years experience in the travel industry and is ideal for wildlife, cruise and food & wine lovers, or anyone who enjoys new experiences, travelling in groups and meeting new friends.

Ngaut Ngaut Aboriginal Conservation Park 1Drive by coach through the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula to Cape Jervis to board SeaLink’s ferry to Kangaroo Island, where you visit Frenchman’s Rock, the historic Maritime and Folk Museum, Cape Willoughby Lighthouse and Clifford’s Honey Farm, home to the rare Ligurian honey bees and their famous honey ice-cream. Accommodation at Kangaroo Island Seaside Inn, right on the esplanade in Kingscote, with all rooms featuring sea views.

Day two includes a stop at Seal Bay Conservation Park for a guided walk through a colony of wild Australian Sea-lions, then marvel at the spectacular Raptor Domain, Birds of Prey show. A visit to South Australia’s first sheep dairy and cheese factory, Island Pure Sheep Dairy is followed by a wine tasting at Bay of Shoals Winery.

Experience the natural rugged beauty of Flinders Chase National Park, Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch on day three. Fall in love with the Long-Nosed Fur Seal colony then lunch at Andermel Marron Farm. Spend the afternoon learning about the marron farm and sampling their Two Wheeler Creek Wines and bush tucker.

Sail back to the mainland on day four, then travel by coach to the historic town of Mannum via Victor Harbor and Horseshoe Bay to see stunning coastal views. In Mannum board the PS ‘Murray Princess’ for a four night cruise upstream along the Murray River. Sit back and relax as you cruise through one of 13 locks to Blanchetown, enjoying amazing views and sunsets, past towering limestone cliffs and riverbanks lined with mallee scrub and red gum forests. Learn about Aboriginal history at the sacred Ngaut Ngaut Aboriginal Reserve and see the animals at a Native Wildlife Shelter followed by a very Australian Woolshed Show.

Nature and wildlife lovers can get up close to the abundant river bird life including swans, swamp hens and wood ducks onboard the ‘Dragon-Fly’ flat-bottomed boat, spot nocturnal wildlife on the riverbanks and join a guided nature walk and learn about the thriving ecology of the river.

Food is a highlight of the cruise which features the Captain’s dinner and dance plus the Aussie-style campfire barbecue dinner on the riverbank. Wine enthusiasts will enjoy the vineyard tour and cellar door tastings at Burk Salter Boutique Winery.

Disembark the ‘Murray Princess’ on day eight and head to the Barossa, Australia’s richest and best known wine region, for tastings and morning tea at the Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre. Travel to historic Tanunda and Kapunda and the beautiful Clare Valley for an overnight stay at the Clare Country Club.

On the final day, visit the famous Georgian style Martindale Hall before heading to historic Sevenhill Cellars, South Australia’s first winery established in the Clare Valley. Explore Clare Township before boarding the coach to drive back to Adelaide, via vineyards and wineries.

Sandra Tiltman


August 21, 2016


Sydney Town Hall was the venue for a recent concert by the Macao Youth Symphony Orchestra as part of their Australian tour. Music lovers were delighted to experience the varied classical programme performed during the evening by this very professional youth orchestra, whose members’ ages ranged from pre-teens to young adults.

Founded in 1997, the Macao Youth Symphony Orchestra has given more than two hundred public performances. The Orchestra, which draws its members from local universities, secondary and primary schools, strives to keep its initial objectives of providing musical training and performing opportunities for the local youth, many of whom have decided to make music a career.

Mike Smith, Jimson, Hoi Kin Wa, Ms Wong, Helen Wong

Mike Smith, Jimson, Hoi Kin Wa, Ms Wong, Helen Wong

By regular training from guest instructors from Hong Kong, Macao and mainland China, the Orchestra works to improve the standard of the students’ music appreciation and performance. In January 2010, the Orchestra was awarded the Order of Merit in Culture by the government of the Macau Special Administrative Region of China.

The orchestra has previously performed in Washington’s Kennedy Centre, the Berlin Konzerhaus, Singapore’s Victoria Hall, Salzburger Mozarteum and the National Grand Theatre in Beijing, as well as tours to Prague, Vienna, the Florence International Youth Festival in 2014, Shanghai’s Summer Festival, Ao Lago Festival in Lisbon and many more.

Sandra Tiltman         Photos: John Pond


August 15, 2016

Anyone who loves listening to Broadway style show tunes will enjoy Blue Saint Productions’ “Songs For A New World”, currently playing at the Hayes Theatre in Sydney’s Kings Cross until 28 August 2016.

The first musical from Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown (Parade, Bridges Of Madison County), “Songs For A New World” is a moving collection of powerful songs that examine life, love and the choices we make. It’s about the stories and characters of today, their one moment, hitting the wall and having to make a choice, take a stand or turn around and go back.

openpublicdocument-1.doThe audience is transported from the deck of a 1492 Spanish sailing ship to a ledge 57 storeys above Fifth Avenue to meet an array of characters, ranging from a young man who has determined that basketball is his ticket out of the ghetto to a woman whose dream of marrying rich nabs her the man of her dreams and a soulless marriage.

Starring an incredibly talented cast who each bring their characters to life. Teagan Wouters as Woman 1 recently finished her role as Tzeitel in “Fiddler On The Roof”. Sophie Carter as Woman 2 has been touring in the Australian production of “Georgy Girl” in the role of Bev. Christopher Scalzo as Man 1 played in The Hayes Theatre’s production of “Rent” as Angel and Cameron Macdonald as Man 2 recently performed the title role of Charlie Brown in the Alex Theatre’s “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”.

This critically acclaimed production is directed by Helpmann and Green Room award winner, Luke Joslin (Avenue Q, Les Misérables) and musically directed by Lucy Bermingham (Sydney Theatre Award for Best Musical Direction in “Violet”) and designed by Jacob Batista (Avenue Q, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown).

Director, Luke Joslin commented ““Songs For a New World” is an abstract musical of enormous vocal demand with a sequence of mini vignettes that snap shot the crossroads of life. It explores the decisions we make to change our life and what leads us to make these decisions and the consequences of these decisions.”

Hayes Theatre Tuesday-Saturday 8pm  Matinee Saturday 2pm, Sunday 1pm + 6pm

Sandra Tiltman  Photos: Grant Leslie


August 14, 2016


Located in Sydney’s foodie hub of Crows Nest, this unique new restaurant only opened in April this year and is one which the whole family will enjoy, from youngsters to grandparents. As the name suggests, the food is Mediterranean inspired but where MediTrainean differs from others serving this cuisine, the dishes arrive at your table via a train set up, think Japanese sushi train.

IMG_9547The well stocked train runs down the centre of the restaurant with seating on either side, where it is very easy to access the delicious food as it travels along the rails, on display to tempt the hungry diner. A huge variety of dishes, from Mediterranean inspired mezze tapas plates, covering entrée, main and dessert, all based on tasty home-style Mediterranean tastes, are just waiting to be chosen.

Diners also have the option to order fresh food from the flame grill.

Focussing on fresh ingredients, local produce and family favourite recipes, MediTrainean offers the diner the choice of a bar, table service or selections from the train that can be eaten either in the restaurant or packed and taken home.

MediTrainean’s blue and white interior, gives the diner a true Mediterranean region experience, especially when the sun filters in through the large windows.

When I went for lunch recently, I selected from the train some flat bread plus a dip of chickpea, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil – it was just too tempting watching it go past.

IMG_9585I could not choose between two of the delicious salads, so I had both. Pearl Cous Cous
with spiced roast pumpkin, apricots, dates, chickpeas, roasted walnuts and orange segments, as well as the Spiced Carrot chickpea, crumbled feta, sultanas, toasted almonds, mint, garlic, honey and dukkah. Highly recommend both of them.

For mains I decided to order from the grill. The Salmon Skewers in a citrus and dill marinade and Tiger Prawns
in fresh herbs, garlic & olive oil were absolutely delicious.

Even though I was no longer hungry, I could not leave without trying some of the desserts from the train which I had been eyeing all through the meal. The Roast Quince with crème fraiche, halva and rose petals was superb as was the Cheese Cake of baked ricotta, almond and pine nuts.

IMG_9562Licensed & BYO, MediTrainean Restaurant, 55 Alexander Street, Crows Nest, 2065 is open Tuesday & Wednesday 5.30pm-10pm, Thursday & Friday 12noon-10pm. Closed Sunday & Monday.

Sandra Tiltman     Photos: John Pond


August 14, 2016


Sydney seems to have a huge selection of bars, but hey, there’s always room for one more, especially at Circular Quay.

Inspired by the grand plantation architecture of Cuba and mixed with the luxury modern vintage hotels of 1950’s Miami, “Hacienda” is located in the Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour. With fabulous views of the Harbour Bridge and cruise ships docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, plus the many ferries darting around the harbour, Hacienda is a great place to relax with a cocktail, day or evening.


Sandra Tiltman enjoying a cocktail

I tried two of Hacienda’s signature cocktails during my recent visit, but I still can’t make up my mind as to which was my favourite. The “Bottled Mojito” of Blanco rum, crème de menthe, lime, mint, falernum, orange bitters and “Old Presidente” made from aged rum, orange curacao, house spiced raspberry syrup & Angostura bitters served in a smoked rocks glass had me wanting more. Both had my vote as being up there with some of the best cocktails I have tasted. Glad I had my designated driver by my side.

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Great drinks are not all that’s on offer at Hacienda. Award winning Executive Chef Stefan Brademann is at the helm of the kitchen, with a menu inspired by Cuba’s traditional trading partners and their local, abundant ingredients, to create dishes unique to Hacienda. With Latin and American delights such as blackened rice crisps topped with crab & finger lime, scallop ceviche, Yucca fries with red pepper sauce, Cajun spiced grilled prawns and Hacienda’s signature Cuban Reuben of Cuban spiced homemade pastrami, smokey cheese & Marrickville pickles, Hacienada is a foodie venue as well as a bar.

Hacienda prides itself on sharp service, a stylish drinks selection and delicious food in a truly unique Sydney setting.

Sandra Tiltman      Photos: John Pond