New head chef at Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa has appointed a new head chef, Damian Brabender, to establish the resort as a prominent dining destination.

Brabender had been working as Wolgan’s executive sous chef for six months before his promotion to head chef.

His professionalism and enthusiasm for sourcing local, seasonal and organic produce in line with the resort’s food philosophy make him a welcome asset to the resort’s kitchen.

As head chef, Brabender aspires to establish the resort as a foodie destination in its own right, and promises to be a proactive chef.
“I really want to put Wolgan on the culinary map. I want guests to seek out the resort because of our fantastic dining experience — an experience that guests won’t have anywhere else because our dishes are inspired by local produce from the surrounding areas of Mudgee, Orange and the Hunter Valley, and our own kitchen garden,” says Brabender.

Damian Brabender - Head Chef - Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

“I pride myself on being a very hands-on chef and leading by example. I believe in training young chefs the right way and look forward to building an ambitious brigade to bring Wolgan to even higher heights of excellence than we already achieve. I am also looking forward to working closely with the brilliant local growers, farmers and vintners who provide us with exceptionally high quality produce.’’

General manager Joost Heymeijer says: “We are fortunate to have a very talented team at Wolgan, and I’m pleased to be promoting from within the resort. Damian has excelled as an executive sous chef, bringing fresh new ideas to the table and a genuine passion for locally sourced ingredients.”

Since his recent appointment, Brabender has worked alongside internationally renowned chef Brett Graham, the first Australian to hold two Michelin stars and Neil Perry, arguably Australia’s most influential chef, for the resort’s recent culinary event with Qantas epiQure.

Damian is now working hard on a fresh and delicious festive menu that captures the spirit of Wolgan Valley and is set to impress guests over the Christmas and New Year’s Eve period.

Brabender has a diverse and successful culinary career spanning 13 years. Before joining Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, Brabender was the executive sous chef at Lizard Island resort for two years. Previously, he was head chef at London’s Royal Opera House where he worked alongside legendary UK chef Pierre Koffman. While in London, Brabender also worked at Racine which is regarded as one of London’s finest French restaurants and boasts two AA Rosettes.

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Less than three hours’ drive from Sydney, in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area, the resort is set on a 4000 acre carbon-neutral conservation and wildlife reserve. There are 40 individual suites, each with its own swimming pool, a main homestead with various dining spaces, a heritage precinct, and an ultra-relaxing Timeless Spa, occupying just 2 per cent of the total land area.

Wolgan Valley’s food philosophy is based on seasonal, regional and where possible organic produce. Sourced from local boutique farms, private growers and vintners from within a 160-kilometre radius, and the resort’s own kitchen garden, the menu showcases exceptional Australian fare and changes daily to make the most of the finest and freshest quality ingredients.

The resort’s all-inclusive rates include gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, non-alcoholic beverages and a select range of local wines and beer. The restaurant is only for guests. Recently awarded a certificate of excellence by TripAdvisor, which puts the resort in the top 10 per cent of all hotels in the world based on traveller feedback, Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa was also named the best hotel in Australia, 2013, by TripAdvisor.

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Images By Michelle Karaman-Jones