Award-winning chef brings a new flavour of hospitality to the Gunyah Hotel

Updated: Jul 30


Gunyah hotelier Locky Heffernan and chef Gavin Forman

By now we all know pub food is about so much more than just schnitties and burgers (not that there’s anything wrong with that Jerry), and now the Gunyah Hotel has taken the idea of high-end food offerings to a whole new level with the recent acquisition of renowned chef Gavin Forman.


Over the past 26 years, Irish-born Forman has crafted his skills in Australian cuisine working first as a sous chef at Sydney’s Park Royal, then bringing his skills to the Hunter where he held a three-year appointment as Head Chef of the prestigious Newcastle Club. He has also held executive chef positions at Wyndham Estate working alongside Darren Simpson and Maggie Beer, the Old George & Dragon where he was awarded 5 Chef Hats and the venue took the title of Restaurant & Catering Awards for Excellence National Title - Best European Restaurant, opened his own restaurant The Mortar and Pestle in Newcastle, been the driving force behind launching the Bradford Hotel’s $1.8 million dining offering, appeared in cooking programs on Foxtel, and contributed to the success of numerous other Hunter Valley and Newcastle-based restaurants.

“Adapting a fine-dining feel to a pub menu is possible but it requires pushing the constraints around time and margins,” Forman said.

“You have to be careful and clever about it, but the menu we’ve created does have that feel with items like Butter Cream Balmain Bugs cooked in a vanilla and leek butter sauce on a puff pastry base and Smoked-Salmon Bruschetta, but we also have the classic dishes people expect like schnitzels and steaks.”



Beef cheek pie cooked with slow braised beef cheek in a puff pastry case topped with mash potato, mushy peas and gravy

“Opening night with the new menu was extremely successful and we had at least two pages of compliments from diners..."

- chef Gavin Forman

The recently launched winter menu has been well received with both new and long-term local patrons praising the dishes.

“Opening night with the new menu was extremely successful and we had at least two pages of compliments from diners,” Forman said.

“It was a huge relief with everything that’s been going on to see people turn up and then have such high praise for the menu.”

According to hotelier Locky Heffernan, the new menu provides an improved adaptation to the lakeside venue, incorporating water views, seafood, and fresh ingredients.”

“Our philosophy was if we could raise the bar without raising the price, then it had to be a win. Being able to do that had a lot to do with Gav’s expertise and ability in creating incredible dishes within our price margins.


“Our philosophy was if we could raise the bar without raising the price, then it had to be a win. Being able to do that had a lot to do with Gav’s expertise and ability in creating incredible dishes within our price margins..."

- hotelier Locky Heffernan

“The venue has so much potential and bringing in someone of Gav’s calibre is definitely part of the vision we have for creating something really special at the Gunyah.

“We’re definitely getting closer to seeing that vision come together now and despite the challenges we’ve all been through recently, the support we’ve seen from staff and patrons as we start to come out the other side has been phenomenal.”

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Australian Hotels Association 2018