Dave Griffin and Sam Alexander were working in the kitchen at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley eight years ago when they struck up a friendship and vowed to work together in the future.
This dream has now become a reality at Newcastle’s Reserve Wine Bar. Renowned chef Cory Campell’s six-month tenure at Reserve has come to an end and Griffin and Alexander have stepped up to the plate.
“They kind of fell into working at Reserve by accident,” Reserve owner Patrick Haddock told Food & Wine.
“Both have successful market stalls – Dave is responsible for Bao Brothers Eatery and Sam for the Dirty Camel Kebabs – but they have both come at street food from a fine dining background. Dave has been doing the Bao pop-up night at Reserve for nine months now and has got to know the venue well.”
Griffin previously worked at Subo, while Alexander has done stints at Fins Byron Bay, Bistro Molines, Icebergs and most recently Merivale’s Bistro CBD with Jeremy Strode.
Their food philosophy? To make simple, tasty and honest food using fresh, seasonal ingredients.
“The menu at Reserve is going to be constantly changing depending on what’s available, and you might see some Asian influences from Dave and some Middle Eastern ideas from Sam,” Haddock said.
“We have just introduced the Reserve Burger Project. Every week the two chefs will devise a burger special that will be available on the all-day menu. Chefs will be pickling vegetables on site as well as using every last bit of fish, beast or vegetable so there’s no wastage.
“The plan is still to stay true to the venue and ensure there is tasty food to pair with the extensive wine list. You can pop in for a glass and a snack at the bar or experience a full meal with a great bottle or two. It’s up to you.”
The quest to find the perfect culinary accompaniment to Reserve’s wine list has been an ongoing one for Haddock but he is convinced “Reserve 3.0” is on the money.
“We want to create a friendly space that will become synonymous with one of Newcastle’s best food and drink offerings as well as personable service that is informal yet informed,” he explained.
“These guys live for food, their energy and passion is infectious and they want to make their mark and to be known for their no-nonsense approach to cuisine.”