Open to any professional chef working in Australia, Chef of the Year has grown over the past decade to become a sought-after title with $10,000 up for grabs, plus a wealth of exciting prizes.

“As ever the competition is evolving, and this year the emphasis will be on showcasing the individual skills of each finalist,” said competition director Gary Farrell. “Chefs will be able to nominate some ingredients for their pantry and will know feature ingredients in advance, enabling them to practise their dish.”

The feature protein this year will be pork. “This is going to be very exciting for the finalists, pork is such a versatile meat and takes on flavours beautifully,” Farrell said. “It will also showcase the skills of the chef to bring out the best texture and taste.”

Australian Pork Limited’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Mitch Edwards, said that the competition is a great opportunity to showcase the versatility of Australian pork to a highly engaged foodservice audience.

“This is the most prestigious competition for Australian professional chefs and we’re pleased to be able to join in the celebration,” he said. “It’s all about encouraging chefs to put their skills to the test and showcase their skills, creativity and more.”

Australian Pork joins fellow Gold Sponsors Unox and Chobani, plus Silver Sponsors Alsco and Robot Coupe. The competition will be held at the heart of the show floor, with stadium-style seating for the audience.

“I can’t wait to see how the show kitchen shapes up at our new venue, ICC Sydney,” said Farrell. “We are privileged to be working with high quality Unox and Robot Coupe equipment that will really assist the chefs to produce their finest dishes. I also enjoy seeing the creativity as chefs incorporate the Chobani yoghurt range into their entries, they always give me new ideas!”

Farrell also revealed that John McFadden will return as Head Judge of the competition, and Peter Howard AM will be MC.

“Peter has been involved in chef competitions for decades,” said Farrell. “As a founder of the Australian Culinary Foundation, he has always had a passion for chef training and development, plus he had a long television career and was one of the first ‘celebrity chefs’.”

During May the judging team will select 32 finalists to compete live over three days at the centre of Foodservice Australia, culminating in the Grand Final on Tuesday 29 May.

Farrell added that more and more women are entering the competition, a trend he would like to continue. “In recent years there have been some incredibly talented female chefs competing who have reached the finals. Maybe in 2018 we’ll have our first female Chef of the Year!”