Chef's cooking the kitchen

Thirty-two of the top chefs from across Australia will gather in Sydney for the prestigious Chef of the Year contest, held at the Foodservice Australia trade show from 27-29 May at ICC Sydney.

More than 170 Australian chefs applied for the honour of battling it out in this years’ competition. Returning chefs selected include Daniel Wijekoon, who made it to last years’ grand final, as well as Andrew Ballard, Nicola Roberti, Naomi Lowry, and Leslie Austen among others. There is also a selection of chefs new to the competition who will be out to prove themselves on the big stage.

“The vast number of entries from senior professional chefs demonstrates this title has become one of the most sought-after in the Australian culinary landscape,” said Competition Director Gary Farrell. “With a share of $10,000 cash up for grabs, it is also one of Australia’s richest competitions for chefs.”

The format of this year’s competition has changed to allow chefs to showcase their style and creativity in the kitchen. Finalists are now able to plan their dishes in the heats, allowing them to think ahead and pre-order necessary ingredients. In the semi-final and grand final, a mystery box of unknown ingredients will be presented to the chefs, getting them to think on the spot and without much thought make the best dish possible.

The competition’s judges were announced earlier this year. John McFadden is returning to lead the judging alongside fellow judges Adam Moore and Nick Whitehouse. Each day will also include additional guest judges such as Claire Van Vuuren, Karen Doyle, Steve Belcher, Julio Azzerello and 2016 Chef of the Year Matthew Weller.

Full list of finalists:

Maxime Arnold Head Chef, Wolfe & Molone (Vic)
Leslie Austen Head Chef, Shamrock Hotel (Vic)
Andrew Ballard Owner/Chef, Simmer Culinary (Vic)
Samuel Beatty Executive Chef, Babbingtons Bar & Grill (Vic)
Martin Bouchier Group Executive Chef, BevCo Hospitality (NT)
Darren Bradley Head Chef, Bombetta (NSW)
Adrian Carter Head Chef, European Catering (NSW)
Dylan Cashman Head Chef, The Blue Door on 5th (Qld)
Simone Clemente Head Chef, Vege Rama (Qld)
Nuno Filipe Senior Sous Chef, Lucios (NSW)
Carolyn Griffiths Head Chef, Cape Lodge (WA)
Jonathan Heath Head Chef, Locale Restaurant (NSW)
Kyran Henry Head Chef, Beyond the Pale (Qld)
Megan Hooton Chef, Bread in Common (WA)
Jesse Hughes Owner/Chef, ALMA (Vic)
Guillaume Le Gal Head Chef, Bitton Gourmet (NSW)
Jack Lee Head Chef, Beansmugglers (Vic)
Naomi Lowry Chef Patron, Culina et Vinum (NSW)
Joseph Madurawala Junior Sous Chef, Oasis – The Star (NSW)
Renee Martillano Executive Chef, Eureka89 (Vic)
Jason Martin Executive Chef, Locavore Restaurant (NSW)
Anna Migeon Personal Chef, At Your Table (NSW)
Jordan Monkhouse Head Chef, Momami Restaurant (Vic)
Nicola Roberti Head Chef, Caffe e Cucina (Vic)
Kurt Sonneman Head Chef, Ziva – Club Toukley RSL (NSW)
Jeremy Steele Executive Chef, Gate Gourmet Catering (NSW)
Christian Stone Chef Manager, The Clayfield Carriage House (Qld)
Shannon Strange Head Chef, Bayswater Bar & Bistro (Qld)
Fia Takaia Executive Chef, Waka (Qld)
Tabitha Thomson Executive Chef, Queensland Cricketers Club (Qld)
Brittany Tyrrell Head Chef, The Oaks Hotel
Daniel Wijekoon Sous Chef, Wests Group (NSW)