MEET THE TEAM – Nicole Dews, Head Chef at Great Western Hotel

After finishing high school in Orange Nicole knew she wanted to work in hospitality.

“My Dad (David Woods) was a really great cook and I used to cook at home with him. Dad used to do really great roasts and jazz them up with marmalade in the gravy and things like that.”

“I was working behind the bar at the Dee Why Hotel and became friends with the head chef there and spent a lot of time in the kitchen and she said, you need to be back here and start cooking. I started my apprenticeship quite late at age 21 and I went from there and can’t imagine doing anything else.”

After working at the Dee Why Hotel, Newport Arms and Middle Harbour Yacht Club, Nic and her husband Adrian bought Manildra Pub which they ran for nine years before returning to Orange to work at the Hotel Canobolas and then heading to Queanbeyan to work at the Royal Hotel.

“I ran the catering at Charles Sturt University before establishing the restaurant 1870 which we had for seven years, and I’ve been at the Great Western Hotel since September.

“Having our own pub was pretty awesome and having my own restaurant was a dream. To put yourself on a plate was amazing. I’ve always been in pubs so I feel like I’ve come full circle now.”

When Nicole first met Matt Hardman at Great Western Hotel she was really excited.

“We’re bringing the menu to a premium pub level. It’s a slow and measured process but we’ve been getting some good feedback already. Now the renovations have happened we can really ramp things up.

We’ve introduced more share platters and continuing favourites like the chicken burger which people love. We’ll start to refine the menu and while we’ll always have the pub classics, we want to introduce more polished restaurant dishes.

It’s a matter of keeping our regulars happy but also ensuring there’s always something new and interesting for locals and tourists who visit the pub.”

Nicole Dews