Oct 10

Sydney Kings conquer Hawks in Wollongong

Livewire guard Rotnei Clarke’s 30-point haul couldn’t quite save the Hawks in Sunday’s trial against the Sydney Kings at the Snakepit in Wollongong.
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The Hawks fell behind by 25 in the first half before fighting back on Clarke’s red-hot perimeter shooting to pull within three.

But the visitors made enough free throws to clinch a 98-93 victory.

Wollongong finished the pre-season with a 2-5 record and take on titleholders New Zealand in the 2013-14 season-opener on October 10.

Clarke hit 9/13 shots, including 5/8 from three-point range. He was also a perfect 7/7 at the foul line.

Fellow import Durrell Summers threw down three crowd-pleasing dunks and showcased his athleticism on the way to 26 points.

Summers poured in a game-high 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds on debut in Friday night’s double overtime win over the Kings, while Clarke finished with 25 points and six assists.

Absent for the Hawks was centre Larry Davidson. The home team sorely missed the 209-centimetre defensive anchor, particularly inside where Sydney’s A. J. Ogilvy casually racked up 16 first-half points before taking the rest of the night off.

Davidson was rested after turning an ankle in Friday’s clash but doesn’t expect to be sidelined for more than a few days.

“The disappointing thing was that we got totally out worked and their disruption early caused us a lot of problems, and we weren’t smart enough to work our way through it,” Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod said.

“The other thing was that we were closing out [defensively] on the wrong guys and leaving the wrong guys open. We weren’t where we needed to be mentally with what we were doing.”

McLeod was far more impressed with his side’s second-half performance.

“It was a great effort in the second half,” he said.

“We really did a good job of disrupting more, and we made some shots and applied some pressure and made a game of it.

“Obviously we’ve got some work to do, but we’ve made good improvement since our first pre-season game against Cairns.”

Hawks forward Oscar Forman and guard Rhys Martin combined for 15 points, while forward Tim Coenraad had six points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Leading the way for Sydney were Brad Hill and Charles Carmouche, who each scored 23 points.

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Oct 10

New climate body raises nearly $1m in donations

A social media campaign to fund a replacement for the abolished Climate Commission through private donations has proved a huge success with $900,000 raised in less than a week.
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Amanda McKenzie, from the rebadged Climate Council, said the money was raised largely from small donors, with an average donation of about $50.

The funds were raised from about 20,000 individuals and far exceeded the original targets.

“Initially the councillors aimed to raise $500,000 in a week. That target was met after two days,” she said. “Once we got to $800,000 we upped the aim to $1 million on Facebook”.

Ms McKenzie said most of the donations from the email and social media campaign had come through its Facebook page. “There’s obviously very strong community interest for the community to get the facts.”

As one of its first acts, the newly elected Abbott government fulfilled its pre-election promise to axe the Climate Commission.

A day after being sworn in, Environment Minister Greg Hunt called chief climate commissioner Tim Flannery to say the body would be abolished immediately. The decision will save the government $1.6 million a year.

The commission was set up by the Gillard government to provide public information on global warming. Mr Hunt said it was axed to streamline government processes and that analysis on climate change would be provided by the Environment Department.

Ms McKenzie described the fund-raising method as “Obama style”, a reference to the social media fund-raising strategy of US President Barack Obama, which involved tapping small donors for contributions.

Ms McKenzie said she had not seen all the donations but the bulk were for $5 to $1000. She was yet to see a donation of more than $1000.

She said the new body was yet to decide if it would disclose the identity of large donors. It also wanted to keep raising money but was yet to determine if that would be used to boost the council’s annual budget or stretch its funding over a longer period.

“The capacity to work depends on what the budget is – the greater budget the greater capacity to do work.”

Ms McKenzie said one of its first acts was to provide a summary of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

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Oct 10

Baby animals delight at Mattara

THERE’S a mouse in there and a bedroom as well.
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In fact the whole ‘‘Stuart Little’’ family have moved into the loaf of bread that greets children entering the Baby Animal World at the Mattara festival in Newcastle.

The tiniest of creatures were causing the most amazement on Mondayat the exhibit, which has returned to the festival for its fifth year.

All Animals principal Rhonda Hall said she creates two small windows or indents in the bread and the mice do the rest.

‘‘The mice build two levels out of the bread and a ramp to get between,’’ she said.

Ms Hall said the mice will live happily in their bread house for a couple of weeks before she changes the loaf.

The carer’s Arcadia home in Sydney resemble’s Noah’s ark and she has brought several rescued baby animals to the Camp Shortland site on Newcastle’s foreshore this year.

There’s baby goats (or kids), piglets, ducklings, lambs and guinea pig pups.

Two-year-old Jeydah Rizzoli couldn’t wait to climb the fence to join the animals.

The Waratah youngster has a snake, two lizards, a dog and a bird at home.

‘‘She loves animals and gets on really well with them,’’ Jeydah’s mother Angie said.

The 52nd Mattara festival will run until Monday October 7 and is expected to attract between 10,000 and 15,000 people.

Organiser Kim Hillery said this year’s festival would focus on families and will include a Lego display, indoor cinema and daily karate lessons.

With a budget of $60,000 and no council funding, she said the festival was being run on the generosity of volunteers, local businesses and fund-raising.

A highlight this year will be the Mattara MotoMania day on Sunday October 6.

The day is dedicated to all forms of the motor industry and will feature motocross displays and Ziggy’s Hot Rods.

Mice in a high-top loaf of bread at the Baby Animal World display at the Mattara Festival, Newcastle Foreshore, on Monday. Picture by SIMONE DE PEAK.

Jeydah Rizzoli, aged 2 and a half, with a duckling at the Baby Animal World display at the Mattara Festival, Newcastle Foreshore, on Monday. Picture by SIMONE DE PEAK.

Oct 10

Labor’s friendly leadership contest hits Perth

Anthony Albanese (left) and Bill Shorten after the Labor leadership debate in Sydney. They will face eachother in Perth on Monday night. Photo: Marco Del Grande MDGFederal politics full coverage
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Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten have both hailed Labor’s forthcoming leadership ballot as a watershed moment in democracy.

Mr Albanese described the vote as “a great experiment in democracy”, while Mr Shorten said the ALP was “making history in this ballot”.

Speaking at a breakfast rally for ALP members in Perth’s Hyde Park, the two candidates were just as keen to talk up Labor’s new approach as they were to underline their own visions for the party.

Mr Albanese said it was crucial for Labor to continue to champion the new policies it had introduced while in power, including Disability Care, the Better Schools funding program, and the carbon pricing legislation.

He said Labor needed a different approach to the one it took when it was cast into opposition by John Howard.

“In 1996 we didn’t defend our legacy,” he said. “When we come up with a good idea we should be prepared to defend it.”

Mr Albanese also focused on Labor’s future, pointing out that for the first time, rank-and-file members will have a say in developing federal policy.

Both he and Mr Shorten shared a platform at the event, in another demonstration of both candidates’ determination to put the ALP’s acrimonious leadership squabbles in the past.

“If Bill is elected leader he will be a great leader and I’ll be happy to work with him, this is a great experiment in democracy,” Mr Albanese said.

In turn, Mr Shorten said he was “determined that ideas will run the Labor Party, not factions”, and spoke of “drawing a line under the past”.

Mr Shorten paid tribute to his opponent’s long parliamentary career, while adding that he was effectively working in opposition to the Howard government while working as a unionist.

He outlined a plan to win back the blue-collar vote, particularly in WA, where he said a mindset had developed that those who work in small business or industry should naturally gravitate towards the Liberal party.

There was a need to distinguish between policies designed to help industrial workers, rather than those that simply benefit their bosses, he said.

Mr Shorten said the ALP was “determined to renew and refresh democracy in this country”, before urging the party to regroup in time to repair what he described as the damage that would be done to Australia by the Abbott government.

“We can make history in one term by making Tony Abbott history,” he said.

Postal ballots were sent out to ALP members on Tuesday. Rank-and-file members have until October 9 to vote, ahead of the party caucus vote on October 10. The two votes will carry equal overall weight in electing the new leader.

Mr Albanese and Mr Shorten will debate each other on the ABC’s Q&A program in Perth on Monday evening. Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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Oct 10

A housing bust’s biggest loser

Vulnerable … Australia’s housing market Photo: Paul RovereHow to spot a housing bubbleProperty: the boom you can’t mention
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Besides the Melbourne Cup and the footy finals, there are few things that set Australian pulses racing quite like arguments over house prices.

But rather than add to the abundance of analysis and opinion that’s flooded the media recently, let’s consider who has more to lose from a housing bust: Australia’s largest insurer or the world’s most expensive bank.

In the Commonwealth Bank’s annual results presentation, you’ll find a reassuring slide that shows the predicted losses from a three-year stress test.

Assuming property prices eventually fall 32 per cent, unemployment rises to 11.5 per cent and the official cash rate drops to 1 per cent, Commonwealth expects to lose only $1.9 billion from uninsured loans after collecting $2.1 billion of lenders’ mortgage insurance, and that conservatively assumes that all loans 90 days in arrears trigger a claim.

That’s just $4 billion of losses on a $373 billion mortgage book, or just over 1 per cent, and half of that is insured.

This seems a trivial amount for such a big economic dislocation, but let’s look at the two largest players in lenders’ mortgage insurance.

In October 2008 QBE Insurance bought mortgage insurer LMI. QBE LMI reportedly has about 35 per cent of the mortgage insurance market, with Genworth controlling 50 per cent, according to ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.

In Australia, borrowers with deposits of less than 20 per cent of the purchase price of their new home are obliged to take out mortgage insurance, so if they default on their loan mortgage insurers such as QBE LMI are on the hook for any properties sold at a loss by lenders such as Commonwealth Bank.

At this point shareholders of the big banks, who include virtually every Australian through their superannuation portfolios, will be feeling safe and secure. But there’s a problem.

Under the assumed conditions in Commonwealth’s stress test, every other financial institution would be making claims as well. Let’s say the total claim was $7 billion, though it could be far higher.

Now compare that to the $2 billion of shareholders’ equity that Genworth reportedly has, and the roughly $1 billion QBE has invested in LMI, which is itself obliged to meet certain regulatory capital requirements.

Theoretically, the most QBE could lose is the $1 billion because LMI is ring-fenced to ensure that losses from QBE LMI never drag QBE down with it.

Suddenly bank shareholders aren’t sitting so pretty. If QBE LMI is only good for $1 billion and Genworth $2 billion (it also has $1 billion of unearned premiums) who is going to cover the remaining $4 billion or more? If QBE LMI and Genworth don’t have adequate reinsurance policies, it seems losses would be higher than Commonwealth, for example, is anticipating. But who would be worse off?

Even if Commonwealth suffered the full $4 billion ($1.9 billion + $2.1 billion) of losses, if that’s as bad as things got, Commonwealth would get through the period relatively easily. But remember the government had to backstop the big banks’ loans during the global financial crisis, even though there was no real trouble with bad debts.

Perhaps the thought of large losses would cause foreign lenders to withdraw funding, triggering dilutive capital raisings and dividend cuts anyway. Though there’s no guarantee that shareholders would emerge smiling, the big four banks would also probably receive help from the authorities if they got into real trouble.

In contrast, the losses could devour QBE LMI – $1 billion of capital is a drop in the ocean of the $500 billion mortgage insurance market. If QBE chipped in more capital to maintain its reputation, QBE’s already leveraged balance sheet would come into question and also probably trigger a capital raising and a further cut to dividends unless its reinsurance policies paid off.

Bailouts were required during the financial crisis because losses from a US-style property collapse are virtually uninsurable.

The ingredients for a property downturn in Australia are in place: high personal debt, too much reliance on China’s unsustainable economic growth, and high property prices. But there’s no telling how the situation will play out.

Perhaps China will muddle through and income growth will one day catch up to the growth in property prices.

Anything’s possible but the message for investors is pretty clear. If you have a large direct exposure to property, either through your home, investment properties or superannuation, owning bank shares or QBE means all your eggs are in one basket.

This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 282288).

Nathan Bell is the research director at Intelligent Investor Share Advisor. You can get access to a free trial to Share Adviser here and follow Share Advisor on Twitter at @value-investing.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Sep 11

ANZ tops big four in home loan growth

Aggressive strategy: ANZ has increased its share of the Australian home loan market by 7.1 per cent. Photo: Josh RobenstoneANZ Bank continues to aggressively expand its mortgage book at the quickest pace of the big four, as the lender pumps more capital into its Australian home loan business.
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As ANZ, NAB and Westpac rule off their annual accounts on Tuesday, new figures from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority showed ANZ’s home loan book grew by 7.1 per cent in annualised terms during August.

This compared with 5 per cent annualised growth for the Commonwealth Bank and NAB, and 2.7 per cent for Westpac, according to analysis from brokers at Macquarie.

ANZ, the smallest home lender of the big four, signalled earlier this year that it would put more capital into the $1.2 trillion mortgage market as profit margins in its international business come under growing pressure.

As part of the push, the bank has lowered its standard variable mortgage rate to 5.88 per cent, equalling NAB as the big bank offering the lowest advertised rate.

Westpac, in contrast, has been consistently losing share in the lucrative home loan market this year, a trend analysts blame on its decision to offer the highest standard variable rate of the big four.

There were few signs of improvement for Westpac in the latest figures, despite its decision to out-cut the Reserve Bank with an interest rate reduction of 0.28 percentage points. It still has the highest standard variable rate of the big four, at 5.98 per cent.

The numbers were published on September 30, which is the end of the financial year for ANZ, NAB and Westpac.

Weeks leading up to the end of the financial are often a time of heated competition for banks to sign up new borrowers, and this month the Reserve Bank has stepped up its warnings to banks to maintain “prudent” lending standards.

But other data published by the Reserve on Tuesday showed economy-wide credit growth remained relatively subdued in August.

The annual pace of housing credit growth edged up from 4.6 per cent to 4.7 per cent – still only slightly above a record low of 4.4 per cent.

Citi economists Paul Brennan said although new lending was growing strongly, it had not yet translated to credit growth because households were also paying off old loans quickly.

“So far at least it appears that the strengthening in the property market is being driven less by debt and more by cashed up buyers,” Mr Brennan said in a note.

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Sep 11

Key calls loom for Leppitsch

Newly appointed Brisbane Lions coach Justin Leppitsch has some big decisions to make. Photo: Robert Prezioso/Getty ImagesNew Lions coach Justin Leppitsch will spend his first days on the job trying to settle his list for 2014, making a series of key decisions he believes will have a profound influence on Brisbane’s aspirations over the next three years.
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Leppitsch was jovial and relaxed as he greeted the media at the Gabba for the first time as head coach, after he was given the role in place of former team-mate and close friend Michael Voss.

He has wasted little time in meeting and greeting Brisbane’s playing, football and administrative staff and has already had discussions with veterans Simon Black and Jonathan Brown, as well as a host of young players weighing up their future.

Leppitsch would no doubt love Black and Brown to stay for at least another season to provide some veteran leadership for a side that still relies on them for key contributions.

But he won’t press the pair to make a call before they are ready, with Black still getting medical advice and Brown deciding if he has the hunger for another testing campaign.

“We’ve had initial discussions. That will play out over the next few weeks. Blacky is still waiting on news from the surgeon so he’ll weigh up all of those bits and pieces of information. I’d expect to give him time for that,” Leppitsch said.

“Browny is probably closer to a decision on what will happen. His is less than a body issue but more ‘is it time, is it not time’. I’ll respectfully give those guys space.”

Whether that duo return will give Leppitsch firmer guidance on what areas he needs to address on the Lions list, with another midfielder, a key defender and a key forward top of the list.

He’ll also get to the bottom of the group of youngsters still deciding on their future paths. He’s hoping to convince them to stay but if not, Leppitsch wants fair compensation at the trade table.

Pat Karnezis (Victoria) and Jared Polec (South Australia) appear lost but Elliot Yeo, Billy Longer and Sam Docherty could yet be convinced to stay in Brisbane.

“I’ve met with them, told them where we are at and how to make them all fit in. I was a 17-year-old drafted to Brisbane as well so I share a lot of their fears,” Leppitsch said.

“And I nearly left after two years as well so they’re in a very similar situation that I was.

“For me, it’s trying to get them to think with their head, not their heart, and that’s difficult for a 19-year-old boy. I’ll just challenge them with their decisions.”

How those cards fall will provide Leppitsch with a much-clearer picture of the outlook for the next few seasons, in which he will be expected to send the Lions into the finals sooner rather than later.

“Look, we all want to be up there as quick as we can. Our age demographic is pretty good. It’s probably just below average in the AFL. We’ve got some players at the back end who are probably going to retire in the next three or four seasons, so we have to replace them,” Leppitsch said.

“There’s a few little key things that need to happen in the next three months that will set us up for coming years. What happens to these young players, what we get for them, that will have a big bearing on the depth of our list and how we compete, whether we touch on making the finals or we just fall short.

“They’re the bits we don’t know 100 per cent.”

Leppitsch is also hoping to get the financial room to take 30 players to a fitness camp in Arizona, more than double the number that would regularly travel.

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Sep 11

Attack ‘linked to police complaint’

Died after being attacked at a Halloween party: Eden Delir. Photo: Supplied Ardavaz and Dorothy Delir, whose son Eden was killed after a Halloween party brawl. Photo: Wes Lonergan/Fairfield City Cham
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A Sydney teenager who was allegedly beaten to death by six youths at a Halloween party was set upon because he ”had the temerity” to report an earlier attack by some of the same young men, a court has heard.

Eden Delir, 17, was found lying unconscious and covered in blood beside a house on Restwell Road, Bossley Park, about 10.30pm on October 30, 2010. He never regained consciousness and died in hospital six days later.

The NSW Supreme Court heard on Monday that Eden’s injuries were inflicted in a ”ferocious attack” by six young men who had shown up at the party uninvited and in an aggressive mood.

One of the youths, who allegedly smashed a glass bottle over Eden’s head during the attack, is facing trial for murder.

”They made their attendance and their purposes plain,” Crown prosecutor Paul Leask said as Eden’s mother cried quietly in the court gallery.

He said that, not long after arriving, one of the youths pointed at Eden and said ”that’s the guy that snitched”.

”The evidence will be that some months before the assault that killed him he was a victim of a robbery involving [another one of his alleged attackers],” Mr Leask said. ”Eden went to the police and reported this attack.

”It is the Crown case that because Eden had the temerity to complain to the police about the violence he received during the robbery, he became a target for further violence. It was this robbery and the aftermath which galvanised these men together in their attack against Eden.”

Later in the night, when the group of young men were standing out the front of the property, they allegedly began taunting Eden, calling out ”hey fatty” and ”hey Eden, come over here”.

The court heard that when the 17-year-old approached, one of the youths took his hat, before another allegedly punched him in the head.

”The ferocity of that punch was so serious that he fell to the ground,” Mr Leask said.

”It’s the Crown case that Eden then suffered a ferocious attack. He was hit to the head and kicked to the head in circumstances where he didn’t have a chance – six against one. It is alleged that this accused had a bottle and he smashed it over the head of the victim.

”By some burst of energy, he broke free from his attackers and ran up the street. One of the members of the group went after him, but Eden out ran him. He ended up beside this house.”

The barrister representing the accused said his client had no motive for the attack, and that much of the evidence in the trial had been contaminated by witnesses talking to one another before speaking to the police.

The trial continues.

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Sep 11

Slow burn: lunch with Andrew McConnell

Andrew McConnell at home in St Kilda. Photo: Derek Swalwell Andrew McConnell at home in St Kilda. Photo: Derek Swalwell
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Andrew McConnell is in the kitchen of his Fitzroy restaurant Cutler & Co palpating a loaf of sourdough with the care and consideration of a doctor assessing a sore tummy. He inspects the crumb and crust, gleaning information with quiet expertise. “I love the timing, the art, the feel of bread,” he says, gently replacing the loaf on a shelf. “Bread is the first thing you eat in a restaurant. You remember it.” Bread was also the first thing Andrew McConnell made for paying customers when, as a teenager, he was roll boy at a bakery near his home in Box Hill North. “My brother Matthew and I got there at 3am to shape the rolls,” he says. There were pay-offs beyond pocket money.

“I loved hanging out with the rough and tumble bakers,” he says.

“At 7am we’d have a beer and go home to sleep. Even better, we often got out of going to church.”

McConnell, 44, is the second oldest of six in a “good Catholic family”. His mother, Margaret, is an adventurous cook who turned catering for friends into a business. His father, Peter, worked as a director for Amcal chemists before joining his mother in the catering enterprise. “We were lucky that eating was a ritual for us not just something you had to get over with,” says McConnell.

Family life instilled an appreciation of good food but he wasn’t burning to be a chef. “I was an art nerd but I also liked cooking and it was easier to get a chef’s apprenticeship than get into art school,” he says. The three McConnell boys are chefs (Matthew owns Fitzroy’s Casa Ciuccio and the city’s Bar Lourinha, Sean works in cafe Mocan and Green Grout in Canberra); the girls work in childcare, beauty therapy and social work.

It’s Friday lunchtime and the Cutler & Co kitchen is a swirl of good smells: smoke from the wood grill, orange zest, butter.

McConnell is floating, telling one chef to fix a sauce (“It’s not hot enough”) and suggesting to head chef Chris Watson that an inter-costal beef cut has great flavour but is too chewy for the entree they’re working on. He stops a plate about to leave the kitchen and moves a garlic flower in such a way that the composition is suddenly complete.

McConnell is a cook who still likes cooking but he also has more than 200 employees in four busy restaurants: Cutler & Co, the Builders Arms with its Moon Under Water dining room in Fitzroy, Cumulus Inc in the city and its offshoot upstairs, Cumulus Up. St Kilda’s Golden Fields will be supplanted by a new restaurant, Supernormal, opening this summer in Flinders Lane, with Asian food and an all-day pitch designed to attract both a younger crowd and business functions. Over the 25 years he’s been cooking professionally, McConnell has morphed from a driven and sometimes fiery young chef into a measured hospitality leader. He’s won a slew of awards as chef and restaurateur.

He’s created emblematic dishes (marron at Circa, roast suckling pig at Cutler & Co, lobster roll at Golden Fields and grain salad at Cumulus Inc leap to mind). Apart from the delicious and the moreish, perhaps his key achievement is to have built a bridge between fine dining and hospitable hanging out. He’s a key Melbourne player but he prefers to stay out of the limelight. He’s written a cookbook of Cumulus Inc recipes but his author photo shows his face from nose to chin only. He’s appeared on MasterChef once but television doesn’t attract, partly because he doesn’t enjoy standing in front of a camera and is wary of commercial entanglements, but largely because it’s a time drain. “I would rather be in my restaurants dealing with my customers and staff,” he says.

He aims to spend a day a week in each restaurant, tasting and tweaking, working with his chefs. “It hasn’t been easy to let go, to not touch every single plate, but as the business grew it became impossible and as I get older I can’t physically be there 60 hours a week. I still feel guilty about it.” McConnell relies heavily on second-in-command John Paul Twomey who files reports from each kitchen, including such details as “the apprentices hang out with each other outside work which is good for morale” and “front of house staff should place dirty plates in the pot wash when they aren’t busy”. McConnell’s restaurants are talent incubators – alumni include Ben Shewry of Attica and Matt Wilkinson of Pope Joan – but many staff stay with him. Some are now business partners, others enjoy the responsibility they’re given and the fact that they’re still learning, such as at cooking masterclasses at Cumulus Up taught by industry experts. Topics include cheesemaking, menu development and French classics. “Even if we never put a souffle on at any of the restaurants, I think it’s great that my chefs know how to make one,” says McConnell.

His attention to detail is striking. At a meeting with design agency Projects of Imagination to discuss initial concepts for the branding of Supernormal, McConnell doesn’t say much. But when he inspects a layout that juxtaposes English and Japanese script, he says, “I like the space here. I like that dot.” New designs come back two days later: more space, more room to look at that dot.

Later in the week, McConnell is cooking at home in St Kilda.

There’s a footy ladder on the fridge, a deer head (“Deirdre”) in the dining room and the compulsory Ottolenghi cookbooks stacked on a table. He joints a chicken as he talk to me, later sticks his arm inside the oven to check it, and makes up a meringue dish as he goes. “The dessert is inspired by the violets outside,” he says, leading me into the bricked yard scattered with blooms. There’s a vegetable patch with chickweed running wild. “I chop it and take it to the restaurant,” he says. That’s as far as grow-your-own goes. “The farmers I work with get a better result than I could ever achieve,” he says. McConnell moved into the large Victorian house in February with his partner, Jo.

McConnell’s son with ex-wife Pascale Gomes-McNabb and Jo’s two children are there about half the time. (Gomes-McNabb, an architect and McConnell’s long-time collaborator, designed Cutler & Co and Cumulus Inc. She and McConnell announced their separation in 2009.) After tailing McConnell for a week, what shines through is his love of food, a belief in the pleasure it can bring, and the ongoing project of creating happy contexts in which to eat it. The success, and therefore the joy, is often in nailing nuance. McConnell talks about the crumpets at Cumulus Inc. “You could serve them with butter and honey and it would be fine but we take it further. We whip ricotta with vanilla till it’s creamy, almost buttery. We serve a big spoon of that next to the crumpet with a cheek of lemon and a pot of honey with a honey stick. Some people will be taken by the crumpet, some will appreciate the complementary arrangement of beautiful things. Some will just think it’s a great snack on the way to work. I like that just as much. I’m not too fussed whether people notice or not. It’s just how I like to do things.”

Andrew McConnell: from rolls to rock to Supernormal

1982 Requests lamb brains for his 13th birthday dinner “out of curiosity and to annoy my siblings.”

1986-1987 Works part-time for Bill Marchetti at Italian restaurant Marchetti’s Latin.

1989 Starts apprenticeship at progressive Kew restaurant Capers. “I was enthralled.”

1991 Continues apprenticeship at Walter Bourke’s Maria and Walter’s, “a quirky little fine diner in Carlton.”

1992 Works at O’Connells with Greg Malouf and is introduced to Middle Eastern flavours.

1993 Travels in Thailand and Malaysia and to a job in London at 190 Queens Gate with Antony Worrall Thompson.

1994 Returns to Melbourne and works at Tansy’s. “Tansy Good’s cooking has had a lasting effect. She taught me how to cook with finesse.”

1995 Works in Europe as a cook for Madonna, Prince, Bryan Ferry, Tom Jones and more. “It was a year of travel and partying, seeing another world, and it was amazing being backstage.”

1996-1999 Has first head chef job in Hong Kong at trailblazing fine dining restaurant M at the Fringe.

2001-2004 Opens first restaurant, Diningroom 211, with then partner Pascale Gomes-McNabb and, initially, with brother Matthew. The brothers are named joint young chefs of the year in The Age Good Food Guide 2002, which calls the restaurant a “sparkling, sexy, postmodern tearaway”.

2003 Opens Mrs Jones, a foray into deformalising fine dining.

2004-2005 Takes the reins of the two-hat Circa kitchen and lifts it to three hats in The Age Good Food Guide 2006.

2006-2008 Mrs Jones becomes Three, One, Two and McConnell is The Age Good Food Guide’s 2007 chef of the year.

2008 Opens Cumulus Inc, Melbourne’s first all-day fine-dining cafe and bar, and an early player in the no-bookings trend.

2009 Opens Cutler & Co in a massive Fitzroy factory.

2010The Age Good Food Guide names McConnell chef of the year.

2011 Opens Golden Fields, serving a lobster roll that sends the city into a frenzy.

2012 Redevelops Builders Arms (and dining room Moon Under Water), “one of my favourite pubs – I used to drink beer there and dance in the disco.”

2013 Opens Cumulus Up, a wine bar designed to ease the crush downstairs at Cumulus Inc. It becomes just as busy.

2014 Will open Supernormal, a Flinders Lane version of Golden Fields.

This profile originally appeared in the October issue of The (Melbourne) Magazine. The November issue will be available with The Age on Friday, October 25.

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Sep 11

Ricky Martin in Newcastle: photos, video

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop
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Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ricky Martin rehearsing at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Please enable Javascript to watch this videoLATINO music star Ricky Martin has arrived in Newcastle ahead of his Australian tour.

The Livin’ la Vida Loca singer travelled to Newcastle with five year old twin boys Matteo and Valentino on the weekend, after flying into Sydney International Airport on Friday.

‘‘It’s been beautiful,’’ he said at Newcastle Entertainment Centre during a break in rehearsals on Monday morning.

‘‘I took a walk yesterday [Sunday] early in the morning, still dealing with jetlag, so it was 6.30 in the morning when I was taking a walk along The Foreshore and it was very beautiful, very special, very relaxing, other than that we’ve been locked in here all day rehearsing.’’

Martin and his family will stay in the Hunter until his Thursday night show in Newcastle, the earliest and only regional stop on his first Australian tour for more than 10 years.

‘‘The show is liberating, at the end of the show everybody will be sweating – there’s a lot of dancing,’’ he said.

Martin will also perform at the NRL Grand Final on Sunday.

‘‘I was invited to an amazing celebration of music and sports and I’m not going to say no to that,’’ he said.

‘‘There is a lot I need to learn about rugby league because we don’t practice it back in Puerto Rico, but I’m ready.’’

Ricky Martin will perform at Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Thursday October 3.

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