This Award-Winning, Hatted Chef Is All the Reason You Need to Plan a Trip to Newcastle

Jana restaurant

If Newcastle taking home the crown for NSW’s ‘Top Tourism Town’ by Business NSW earlier this year wasn’t enough reason for you to plan a trip to the town, an award-winning, hatted chef at one of its restaurants should be.

In May of this year, Shayne Mansfield was appointed Executive Chef of Jana, the lobby-level restaurant located in QT Newcastle. Mansfield’s menu is designed around ingredients sourced from the earth and ocean of the region, as well as premium produce and sustainable fare. Signature dishes include carrot tartare, Game Farm quail, Margra lamb, and Rocky Point Cobia fish.

“I love a new challenge and was excited at the possibilities that QT brings,” says Mansfield, who was awarded One Hat by Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide 2022 during his appointment as Executive Chef at restaurant The Flotilla. He has also cooked shoulder-to-shoulder alongside chefs Paul Walsh and Jason Atherton at Michelin-star London restaurants Pollen Street and City Social.

Jana restaurant
Image: QT Newcastle

“The team [at QT] has put its trust in me, allowing me to work with a clean slate regarding the creation of the menu. I’ve been able to add my sustainable flare and alternative cooking techniques. It allows me to unlock new flavours through parts of produce that often would end up in landfill.”

Mansfield says he’s passionate about minimal food waste and will continue to bring that to life with his time at Jana. An example of this on the restaurant’s current winter menu is the smoked heritage carrot tartare that’s entirely made from carrots and their stems, which Mansfield repurposed into green-tinged crackers.

Carrot tartare Jana restaurant
Image: QT Newcastle

Jana’s menus will always be seasonal and approachable, highlighting the region’s premium produce. Mansfield says the team is creating familiar, sustainably focused dishes with a touch of trickery.

This ethos is shown in the winter menu’s Hawkesbury chicken, served with chick fat hispi cabbage and grape and mustard sauce, that comes from local farm Little Hill Farm in Mount Vincent, NSW. It’s also shown in the Rocky Point Cobia fish that’s filleted, with the bones repurposed in the Vin Blanc stock that the dish is served with.

As for how Mansfield ensures all the ingredients he’s using for the menu are sustainable, he says it’s about fostering relationships with suppliers and growers, which he’s done throughout his career and will continue to do. “I’m excited to implement team trips to these local farms to further these relationships and continue to share with the team how important it is to support local,” he says.

“We’ve already had one team excursion to the Hunter in my time and are looking forward to the next one. Working closely with local suppliers and growers translates to what ends up on the plate – sustainable farming, fishing, and growing is always a hot topic of conversation.”

Jana restaurant
Image: QT Newcastle

As for Mansfield’s favourite dish on the winter menu, launched at the end of May, while he’s proud of it in its entirety, he considers the carrot tartare a standout, as it’s a zero-waste dish that’s vegan too, and created using his favourite cooking techniques: charcoal, smoking, and pickling.

Pickling is also shown in the snapper crudo, which is topped with pickled rhubarb. “Throughout the menu, we’ve included my grandmother’s pickling mix,” he says. “We’re batching this 20 litres at a time.”

Michael Stamboulidis, General Manager of QT Newcastle, says QT is beyond excited to have Mansfield leading the Jana team. “We cannot wait to release to the Novocastrians and visitors to Newcastle humble food, done very well.”

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