First-time entrant Jack Lee from Melbourne has been named Chef of the Year in Sydney, winning the prestigious title as well as $6,500 cash and valuable prizes from major sponsors Unox, Chobani and Australian Pork.

Soon to open his café Beansmuggler in Point Cook, Lee was thrilled to have won the competition held over three days at Foodservice Australia. “I never expected to win against so many highly experienced chefs. It was an incredible three days, I watched all the heats and learned so many new techniques.”

The competition received 180 entries which were whittled down to 32 for the live cooking finals in Sydney and the final four for the exciting Grand Final. His fellow grand finalists were Andrew Ballard from Simmer Culinary in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, Naomi Lowry from Culina et Vinum in Sydney and Jason Martin from Locavore in the Hunter Valley.

“Chef of the Year 2018 was elevated to even greater heights this year,” said Head Judge and Executive Chef John McFadden. “A high standard was set during the heats, and these benchmarks were raised in the finals. It was a true indication of the professional calibre of all the candidates.”

The Australian Professional Chef of the Year competition is one of the most rewarding in the country, with a total prize pool of $10,000. The winner of each heat receives $500, while the winner of the Grand Final receives $6000.