Singleton chef Jamie Hancox believes he has exceeded his own expectations following the opening of his new pizza and pasta restaurant at the Agricultural Hotel earlier this month.
The bubbly personality and namesake of ‘Jwow’s Pizza and Pasta’ admits that he had to rearrange the schedule of his opening week such was his early success.
“We had almost done 200 covers in the first two days so we had to shut the shop on the third day to restock,” he told the Hunter River Times.
“I enjoy cooking, I love cooking and obviously with Covid I was run down with work and with this new business I believed that I could add to the dining options in town.”
Mr Hancox admits he is now living his dream; one he had conjured up throughout a two-decade journey across many kitchens.
“I started as a teenager in a pizzeria in St Albans then went onto places like Vertigo in Brunswick and La Notte on Lygon Street,” he continued.
“I also worked under Guy Grossi from Masterchef at Grossi Florentino as well.”
For more than two decades the 37-year-old Hancox, of Greek descent, has honed his craft in the kitchen and specialised in Mediterranean meals.
He admits he has lost count of the specific Italian dishes he provided when working for the popular Italian franchise La Porchetta.
“I wanted to learn everything I possibly could within my grasp and build up my bag of tools,” he added.
“That work ethic comes from my Greek grandmother who would spend six to eight hours cooking in her kitchen for the family.
“I still remember her Dolmades as well.
“That is a popular Italian meal with rice and mince rolled in the cabbage leaves and then put in the pressure cooker.
“So, there are heaps of different menu options from my experience that I’ll hopefully add in the coming weeks.”
Interestingly, the popular personality also has a claim to fame in the Upper Hunter which he has modestly kept from most until Singleton’s bicentennial year.
“I’m actually a member of the Bellamy family who were related to Benjamin Singleton,” he revealed.
“Benjamin’s sister Hannah married my five times great grandfather James Zadok Bellamy on June 18, 1818 in Sydney.
“So, I’ve always had that connection with the town.”
As for the story behind the restaurant’s unique name?
“I wanted it to be something quirky and I asked myself, what do people know me as? Then I thought – Jwow,” he replied.
“I think Sam Brasington might have started that name at Singleton Roosters AFL training one afternoon and it just took off and stuck with me ever since.”
He now hopes to wow the next generation of diners as he embarks on this exciting adventure.
“There is nothing more rewarding than gratitude from the customers and the way to a person’s heart is through their belly sometimes,” he concluded.
BY ALEX TIGANI