Jake Nicolson

Executive Chef of Ghanem Group

Jake began his cooking career at the Lake House in Daylesford under the guidance of respected chef and owner Alla Wolf Tasker. Prior to joining the Ghanem Group, Jake worked at Circa the Prince in Melbourne for seven years, taking over as head chef in 2010 where he was recognised with two Chef Hats from The Age Good Food Guide 2012. Jake’s work experience also includes a stint at the famous El Bulli in Spain and previous to that in London at The Vineyard, The Square and The Ledbury.

In 2004 Jake was the winner of the Borges/Ferran Adria culinary Scholarship. He was also selected to represent Australia at the International Food & Wine Festival in Dubai in 2005. In 2008 Jake was named Appetite for Excellence Young Chef of the Year. This saw him travel to Venice where he competed in the prestigious international San Pellegrino Cooking cup in which he placed 3rd.
Outside of his kitchen, Jake is a member of the QLD State Judging Panel for the Delicious Produce Awards, ambassador for Electrolux Appetite for Excellence Program & a member of the Royal National Agricultural beef judging panel.

Anthony Donaldson

Head Chef

Anthony started his career as an apprentice in Bundaberg, Queensland before packing up his knives and heading for the UK. Over the ten years he was in London, Anthony was lucky enough to work with some of the world’s top chefs including Philip Howard at The Square (2 Michelin Star), and Brett Graham at The Ledbury (2 Michelin Star) which ranks number 14 in the world’s best restaurants.

Anthony was one of the original members of the kitchen team who helped open The Ledbury and build it into the success it is today. It was there that he built a strong friendship with our Executive Chef Jake Nicolson.

When building and creating the kitchen brigade for Blackbird, we were lucky enough to convince Anthony to come home from the UK to help drive our dynamic kitchen team to the top.

Lyndon Tyers

Private Dining & Events Head Chef

With a total of 16 years’ experience in hospitality, Lyndon hails from a seasonal farming background in Tasmania. After completing his apprenticeship, Lyndon traveled and worked his way through Europe and South America.

Settling down in Melbourne, he then worked with our Executive Chef Jake Nicolson at Circa the Prince of Wales in St. Kilda, eventually working his way up to replace Jake as Head Chef in 2013.

Lyndon’s hard work and talent saw him move up to Brisbane this year to help us open and run our Private Dining & Events space.

Penny Grant

Sommelier for Ghanem Group

Penny Grant started her career in Brisbane at the age of 16, her first significant mentors were Simon Hill & Matthew Brook of Isis Brasserie which later turned into the popular site Ortiga. In 2008 Penny packed up and headed south to Melbourne to further her wine knowledge and experience. It’s in Melbourne that she met Liam O’Brien (Circa the Prince) the first of her two Victorian mentors who then put her in contact with Lincoln Riley with whom she worked for the next 5 years at 3 different venues – Taxi Dining Room, Maze by Gordon Ramsay and Stokehouse St Kilda.

Late 2013 saw a return to Brisbane for Penny with the opportunity to help open and establish Blackbird Bar & Grill in Eagle Street where she is sommelier and group wine buyer for the entire Ghanem Group. The hugely popular Blackbird has been open since March 2014 winning the 2014 Good Food Guide ”˜Drinks list of the year” and Penny awarded “Sommelier of the Year”.

Petra Coutlis

Sales & Marketing Manager

Petra has recently joined the Ghanem Group and brings with her a wealth of knowledge having worked the past 7 years with luxury brands such as BMW, Ferrari and Porsche. Now back in hospitality, Petra’s marketing career has come full circle as her very first marketing role was working for our fellow riverside neighbours Jellyfish and Cha Cha Char. She hopes to bring all that she has learnt working for some of the biggest brands in the world to all venues at the Ghanem Group, and alongside the marketing and events teams elevate our communications & customer experience.

Laila Ghanem

Blackbird Private Dining & Events Event Manager

Laila has lived and breathed hospitality growing up in the Ghanem family. Laila has worked within all the Ghanem Group restaurants from a young age. After completing her bachelor of business majoring in events and marketing, Laila then concentrated her talents on running events within the Ghanem Group. When Blackbird opened in 2014, Laila was set with the task of running our Private Dining and Events department. This year saw the Ghanem Group open our new function space which Laila helps head up and run.