Who is Hayley Whiley: My name is Hayley Whiley (nee Crouch). I have lived in North Wagga for the majority of my life. I grew up in the hospitality industry and cooking became second nature to me. I started working as a waitress/kitchenhand at the Palm & Pawn, which kick-started my journey. I put myself through TAFE to become a chef because I wanted something to show for the years that I had already spent working in the industry and to see where it would take me. During TAFE, I competed in WorldSkills, which led me to compete nationally against 48 other apprentice chefs, placing fifth in the country.
I spent the next five years as head chef at The Sportsmens Hotel and eventually knew I was ready for a challenge, something to call my own. I took over the little corner cafe in North Wagga in June 2019 and watched my dream become a reality. It’s a bit of a full circle moment, owning a cafe that you grew up around in a community where everyone is there to support you.
Best recent dining experience: The Charles is one of our favourites.
Favourite cuisine: My favourite cuisine is Chinese.
What ingredient can I not live without: I can’t live without garlic and salt.
Most embarrassing pantry/fridge item: Two-minute noodles. After a long day cooking, the last thing you want to do when you get home is cook.
The best coffee spot in Wagga: The Northshore Cafe, and I enjoy breakfast at Mr Lawrence.
Favourite coffee: Funnily enough, I highly dislike the taste and smell of coffee.
What’s your coffee blend: We use Buellers Blend from Merchant Coffee Roasters in Mansfield.
What’s the weirdest coffee order you’ve received: A decaf coffee with an extra shot of normal coffee.
A must-try on our menu: Our homemade sausage rolls are always a sellout from our cafe menu, and our southern fried chicken sliders from our catering menu.
The most used ingredient at The Northshore Cafe: Would have to be either Bacon or butter.
Our top pick from our desserts: The Mars bar slices are delightful!
My biggest culinary influence: Matt Moran was a major influence in the early days of becoming a chef. I was lucky enough to meet him and be offered work at one of his restaurants. As a female chef in a male-dominated industry at the time, it was inspiring to be acknowledged by someone who could see potential in me.
Favourite cookbook: The Cooks Companion by Stephanie Alexander.
Who I admire in the Wagga food and wine scene: Everyone in the industry at the moment is doing a great job. The past few years have been extremely tough on businesses, with COVID, staff shortages and the cost of living. So, to still have the doors open and run a successful business is pretty amazing.
What are this week’s specials at The Northshore Cafe: We will be doing different specials each day for December until we close – keep an eye on our socials.
Death row meal: Surf n turf – scotch fillet with garlic prawns, chips and broccoli and a side of gravy. I have clearly thought a lot about this.
Where am I travelling to next: Hopefully we can fit an overseas getaway in for next year – but for now just little getaways to refresh.
Dream destination: I would love to go to Nashville.
My biggest fear: My biggest fear is failure.
My least favourite food: My least favourite food is avocado.
My top three cooking tips: Be prepared, clean as you go and taste.
The Northshore Cafe is open from Monday to Friday 5:30 am to 4:30 pm, Saturday 7 am to 2 pm, and is located at 30 Hampden Avenue, North Wagga.