This time last year I had the pleasure of announcing that Glen Helen Homestead Lodge had won 2 golden plate awards and I am once again to announce that we have taken out the award for a second year running.
See below the news article and photograph of our head chef Mark Jones, courtesy of Barry Skipsey
“The Outback Resort wins another Gold Gong”
Picture & Words by: Barry Skipsey
Nestled amongst the iconic Western Mac Donnell Ranges, you’ll find the award winning Namatjira Gallery Restaurant. Head Chef and proud recipient of another Gold Plate Award, Mark Jones is over the moon.
“Glen Helen Homestead Lodge has just won another Gold Plate for the Best Wayside Inn Dining”, he proudly announces.
Business members of the Australian Hotel Association are invited to enter the National, but State run awards. However, from there on, all assessment details are a closely guarded secret.
“There’s a six week judging period and they can come at anytime”, Mark said. “We have no idea who they are, when they came or what they ate”?
Busy promoting their business in China as part of an NT Tourism Trade Delegation, Resort Operators, Colin and Shelagh O’Brien asked Mark to attend the recent Gala night held in Darwin.
“Given that we picked up two awards last year, I was pretty relieved when my name was called out. I was feeling a little under pressure”, Mark said. “ The Judges say they weigh heavily on the food, but it’s also about the staff, the service and the ambiance”.
The restaurants popularity has steadily grown over the past fives years and the recent awards are a welcome testimony to the work put in by the small, dedicated team.
“It’s very reaffirming to know that last year wasn’t just a flash in the pan”,
Shelagh said. “And it’s really good that we’ve now won across three separate categories”.
Hearing of a job going in Central Australia on the cooking industry grape vine, Mark came over from Perth for a month long trial. “That was three years ago”, he said,
“I love it out here. Colin and Shelagh are very easy to work for and I get to walk to work and have three months holiday a year”.
Asked if he had a favorite signature dish? the outback chef replied, “Well we get big wraps on our Pork Belly and our International guests love the kangaroo”.
Conscious that locals vote with their feet and in the case of Glen Helen Homestead Lodge, drive some distance for the overnight dining experience, the outback restaurateurs won’t be resting on their laurels. Indeed, they have significant innovations planned for their menu and Mark is a man on a mission.
“We were in two categories again this year. They read out a big list of nominees for the Best Informal Dining”, he said. “We made the top three, but didn’t get the gong. So I’m pretty keen to win that one back again next year.”