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  • Your Hunter Valley Magazine

WHO'S IN THE KITCHEN? The Deck Café Lovedale

All-around nice-guy Matt Dillow is a local chef that has been kicking culinary goals since he opened his first restaurant in the region 12 years ago. Since then, Matt has cemented his position as a leading culinary force in the Hunter’s hospitality industry by embracing his Maltese heritage and bringing a touch of the Mediterranean to the valley.

The father of two has earned a reputation, not only as a cooking maestro but as a savvy business operator who over the past 12 years has had no less than three highly regarded dining venues under his belt which were very popular amongst local, interstate and international visitors.

Having sold two of the restaurants (The Verandah and Twine), Matt has retained The Deck Café in Lovedale and continues to host food, wine and produce tours to Tasmania, New Zealand and Tuscany which are fast growing in popularity. Born and raised in Parramatta – Sydney, Matt discovered his passion for food at a young age, indulging in his love of cooking when he was just 15.

After undertaking his apprenticeship with Rydges Hotels and Resorts, Matt went to work as a full-time chef at the stylishly-restored Hotel CBD Sydney and the multipurpose Slip Inn in Sussex Street, before finding himself back at the Rydges Hotel in North Sydney in the position of Head Chef.

A desire to sample the flavours of the world saw Matt travel through Europe to experience the cultures and cuisines of Spain, Greece, Portugal, Prague, England, Germany, Demark and France. He returned to Sydney to undertake the challenge of revitalising the historic Barrenjoey House as Head Chef of the Palm Beach venue before heading north to the Hunter to take the reins of his own establishment, opening the Verandah Restaurant in the picturesque surrounds of CalaisEstate in 2007.

It wasn’t long before Matt was exploring additional dining ventures in the Hunter and went on to establish the popular The Deck Café at Gartelmann Wines in Lovedale and creating his own catering business now operating out of Tamburlaine Wines. Pop in and say hi to Matt when you’re next in Lovedale.

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