Celebrity chefs Manu Feildel and Colin Fassnidge celebrate the rise of Club Malua from the ashes

Manuela Littek, manager of Club Malua, has a fireside chat with star chefs Manu Feildel and Colin Fassnidge.

Manuela Littek, manager of Club Malua, has a fireside chat with star chefs Manu Feildel and Colin Fassnidge in the newly opened Club Malua. Photo: Kim Sweetheart.

Nearly three years after a small south coast club was razed in the Black Summer bushfires, it has reopened to much fanfare from the community – including the surprise appearance of celebrity chefs Manu Feildel and Colin Fassnidge.

After merging with Club Malua, Cabra Bowls Group spent $1.2 million refurbishing the popular Eurobodalla club and was just weeks away from a relaunch when it was lost in the New Year’s Eve fire that raged in 2019/20 traumatized an entire community.

Denis Beavan, Chair of Club Malua’s Advisory Committee, said it was a devastating loss for club members and the general public.

“It was one of the most traumatic and scary things I’ve ever been through and I’ve got 40 years behind me as an EMS worker,” Denis said. “I was scared, people were scared, we were confused. It really was the worst day of our lives.

“Early the next morning they said the club was lost. It took a few days to get in and check it out… it was devastating, there was nothing left. There was only rubble on the ground.”

Almost immediately, Cabra Bowls promised to rebuild.

“The CEO got in the car and came right down,” Denis recalled.

“As soon as the police lifted the cordon, we got in and … he undertook to set up temporary accommodation.

“As soon as the cordon was lifted, all the bowlers came onto the green. The greenkeepers we had back then flooded the greens and they did a wonderful job of saving them. We gathered on the greens, we grilled on the greens and we decided as a community, as a bowling group, to stay together and keep bowling.”

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The club operated from this temporary accommodation – The Marquee – for more than two and a half years and went on to win the 2022 Perfect Plate Awards of the Southern Tablelands and Far South Coast region for ‘Dan’s Marquee Steak Sandwich’.

The club meal, prepared on a Bunnings grill in the makeshift marquee, was voted one of the most popular in the national competition, championed by celebrity chefs Manu Feildel and Colin Fassnidge.

Both were present at the official opening of the new $11 million Club Malua last Thursday, July 28th.

The couple entertained the crowd with anecdotes from their long cooking careers and congratulated the club and its community on their resilience.

“The story of this store, the rebuild and the fire is really a heartwarming story,” said Colin.

“That’s why we’re doing this Perfect Plate thing. It looks like a simple thing to just eat food, but it’s not. But we get to places like this and hear the stories… that’s what it’s all about.

“We are privileged to be here.”

Denis said bowlers and club members alike are excited about the new facilities.

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“This club is a hub for the community,” he said.

“A lot of people see this as their home, they see it as a place to gather, a place of safety… it’s their community center.

“This community in the Malua Bay area is expanding significantly. This club will re-establish itself as the core of the community.

“We have had great support. When this club opened a few days ago they couldn’t move in, they were so excited about it.

“We are overjoyed.”

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