BY BOB IRVINE
Good beer, meet fine food. The dynamic duo behind BLINC Catering, Lincoln and Brigitta Womersley, have partnered with McCashin’s Brewery to engineer a marriage made in heaven. Think Southern-style pork spare ribs with Pale Ale, or Creamy Seafood Chowder washed down with a craft beer or cider on tap. Think special one-off events, live music, games for the kids … Stoke nightlife is about to crank up a notch.
The former cafe at the Stoke brewery has been gutted and refurbished in a style that salutes the industrial – open plan and brick walls, with a homely touch provided by centerpiece leather lounge suites. It’s a working brewery, says Lincoln, – an iconic brewery for Nelson – so why ignore that? Through a window at the new McCashin’s Kitchen and Bar you can watch beer bottles jostling along the production line.
The bar also handles bottle-shop sales, staff can pour you a drop to drink on the premises, and the big espresso beast down the far end will satisfy non-alcoholic tastes, with snack food and more substantial fare available from the kitchen out the back.
Lincoln and Brigitta, both top-flight chefs, have built a busy catering business in Nelson that ranges from weddings for 100-plus, to large corporate events, fingerfood functions, pre-packaged dinners for Nydia Lodge trampers, sustenance for MarchFest patrons, Richmond horse-racing punters and World Cup cricket fans, players and match officials.
They are also raising a family of three “full-on” youngsters, with invaluable support from Brigitta’s mum Élle in Tapawera. So why take on the new kitchen/bar? Lincoln says they love a challenge, and they couldn’t pass up the chance to partner with McCashin’s wares and proven track-record. (The brewer exports to nine countries.)
That ‘marriage’ defines the kitchen/bar’s style. Guided brewery tours finish in the cafe for tastings and a nibble. Quiz nights are on the board, and Lincoln has plans for live music and special beer-food pairing events for the public. Throughout the year, family-oriented nights will focus on events in the garden area. Children are promised hopscotch and swing-ball, with a fort on the building list in the near future.
The kitchen/bar is open from 7am daily (except Sunday from 9am) and closes late at 10pm Wednesday to Saturday, so is ideally positioned to become the social hub of Stoke.
Lincoln loves the fast pace of a busy restaurant service and also the variety of the out-catering business. Wedding parties, for instance, are offered pick-and-choose fare rather than set menus, and the quality of the food soon generates word-of-mouth, keeping the Womersleys very busy.
“I need more time to go hunting and fishing,” Lincoln says – not at all convincingly. The Australian chef met his Kiwi love when they were both working at Ayers Rock Resort. They crossed the ditch to raise a family. Lincoln says that after a few years he became homesick. They sold up, moved back – and within a fortnight he knew he’d made a mistake. Three months later they returned to Nelson, this time for good.
“Plenty of deer in those hills,” Lincoln says. “They needn’t worry for a bit – heaps of exciting challenges to be had first.”