29 July 2022

Five minutes with Marcia and Harry, Mates Gully Restaurant and Boutique Accommodation

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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People standing in front of jars on shelves

Marcia McCoy owner and proprietor of Mates Gully with her venue manager Harry Bhangu. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Who are Marcia McCoy and Harry Bhangu?

Marcia – I’m the owner and proprietor of Mates Gully with my husband, Paul Nolte. I love food and wine. I love people and having young people around me. I think they are fantastic.

I was born in Wagga and was brought up overseas. I moved back to Wagga when I was 15 years old. I lived in Sydney, moved to Paris for a couple of years and came back to work in hospitality for about 10 to 15 years. At 45, I decided I’d had enough of Sydney and decided to go home and spend time with my mum. I met my organic farmer and artist husband and started our café business in Wagga.

We’ve known Harry for about ten years. He had been around us, our business and our farm. He adopted us.

Harry – I’m the venue manager at Mates Gully. I love food and life. I’m very passionate about the little joys of life. When I first met Marcia and Paul, they had served me the best lamb curry I have ever had. I asked Marcia, ‘How did you do it?’ and she said, ‘we have our own farm’. Later that evening I met Paul and we became friends over good food and sharing knowledge.

Best recent dining experience:

Marcia – Courabyra Wines in Tumbarumba. I had some very lovely gnocchi at the restaurant. It was just sensational. They also have fantastic sparkling wines.
Harry – I had a lovely lunch at Mr. Lawrence.

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Favourite cuisine:

Marcia & Harry – French.

Most embarrassing pantry item:

Marcia & Harry – Non-alcoholic wine.

What ingredient can I not live without?

Marcia – Butter.
Harry – Chilli.

Best coffee spot in Wagga:

Marcia & Harry- Mates Gully, of course.

man holding tray of bread loaves

Paul Nolte, Mates Gully master baker. Photo: Supplied.

Next big thing in the Wagga food scene:

Marcia & Harry- It’s going to be our bar. We will be opening within two to three months. It will be an intimate bar.

A must-try on our menu:

Marcia – Soft fresh omelette with spinach, tomato, Parmigiano Reggiano, Mates Gully relish and house-made sourdough bread.
Harry – Our pan-fried vegetable fritters with Moroccan sauce and autumn salad. If I can show you what our farm looks like in one way, it’s the fritters.

tubs of fresh produce

Mates Gully uses a cornucopia of fresh organic farm produce vegetables. Photo: Supplied.

My biggest culinary influence:

Marcia – I loved experimenting with food. My mother and grandmother influenced me a lot and living in Paris for two years also influenced me. Everything was fresh and seasonal.
Harry – Marcia McCoy.

Favourite cookbook:

Marcia – Cookbooks by Damien Pignolet.
Harry – Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver.

Who I admire in the Wagga food and wine scene?

Marcia – I really admire what Harry is doing. He is getting involved and interacting with everyone. I also admire what the boys do with Pastorale By Meccanico and Jamie Pascoe with The Charles. They are wonderful and are doing so much for Wagga.

Harry – Marcia McCoy and Paul Nolte.

Plated sausages, potato wedges and vegetables

Mates Gully’s gluten and preservative-free lamb sausages with red wine jus, potato wedges, and vegetables from the farm. Photo: Supplied.

What are this week’s specials at Mates Gully?

Marcia & Harry- We are doing three different pizzas. All the ingredients are sourced fresh from our farm. There will be a vegetarian pizza, pulled lamb pizza and a lamb sausage one. We are also making cauliflower soup.

Death row meal:

Marcia – Steak with Bearnaise and a little gratin dauphinoise and asparagus.
Harry – Our lamb sausages with extra chilli.

My least favourite food:

Marcia – Tripe.
Harry – Anything deep-fried.

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My COVID-19 response:

Marcia – It was such a terrible thing, but it has been wonderful in a way. You’re forced to stop when you’re going so fast and there’s no time to think about anything else. We had to close for eight weeks and we were able to stop and breathe. But it was hard on us and our business.

Harry – I was living on a farm and it didn’t affect me as much as it affected many people. I was able to see how important it was to live in the moment. Since then, I have been able to make changes in my life. I want to be around people and do what makes me happy. It’s something I’m passionate about.

My top three cooking tips:

Marcia – Control the flame, don’t let the flame control you. Enjoy what you do and embrace cooking. Don’t be afraid of failure because failure is knowledge.
Harry – Always add extra butter. Always have bread. No meal should be served without wine.

Mates Gully is located at 38 Morrow Street, Wagga. Mates Gully Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and all-day snacks Wednesday to Sunday from 9 am to 3:30 pm. Mates Gully Restaurant is open for dining Friday and Saturday from 5:30 pm to 10 pm.

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