Competition rules and handy tips

Australian Professional Chef of the Year is a competition that gives you a chance to showcase your skills, promote your restaurant, network with fellow professionals and win a share of $10,000 cash and prizes. If you want to be a part of this exciting event then have a read through the following guidelines and click on the entry form.


If you think you could be the next Australian Professional Chef of the Year then you need to nominate.

The competition begins with a simple nomination. Tell us your background and why you think you should be considered for Chef of the Year. Entry is open to any professional chef working in Australia at a Junior Sous Chef to Executive Chef level. 


Our team of industry judges will use that information to choose the finalists to compete at the live event in Sydney. Entries close at 5pm on 24 April 2020.

There is no cost to enter but if you are selected you will need to cover your own costs to attend Foodservice Australia for the finals.

If your nomination is accepted, your mission will be to:

Attend the Foodservice Australia in Sydney in May and cook your best dishes in front of a live audience and team of judges. You will be given one hour and a box of ingredients. Your task is to impress the judges and work your way through to the Grand Final.

What do I need to bring?

If you are selected then you just need to bring yourself, your personal equipment and a set of knives to the competition venue in Sydney. We will supply all the equipment and ingredients. We will also supply a competition jacket which is yours to keep. You need to be available on Sunday 17 May - Tuesday 19 May 2020. You will be given your exact competing times closer to the event.

How do the heats work?

There will be four heats on Sunday 17 May and four heats on Monday 18 May. Each heat will have four chefs competing against each other and the clock. Judges will allocate scores out of 100. The winner of each heat will go through to one of two Semi Finals on Tuesday morning. The top two competitors from each Semi Final will go through to the Grand Final which will take place at 2pm on Tuesday 19 May.

You will be told what cut of Australian Pork you need to use prior to your heat. On competition day you need to arrive at least 30 minutes prior and check in at the competition area where you will be given a competition jacket, a briefing from competition director Gary Farrell and your allocated kitchen. 
You will have 15 minutes to set up your individual work stations to suit your needs, unpack ingredients and prepare yourself for the competition.

When the bell sounds you will have one hour to prepare and serve two dishes (four serves of each). Dishes can be entrée or main course. These dishes should reflect skill, technique, flavours, texture and best use of ingredients - especially the hero protein, Australian Pork. They should also be a reflection of you as a chef and highlight your individual style and creativity. Dishes must be plated and taken the judging table before the end of the hour. You can start plating your dishes from 45 minutes and will have a total of 60 minutes total. If you go over time you will be allowed a maximum of 5 minutes, but you will lose 1 point per minute as a penalty. Once all dishes are completed you will be asked by the senior judge to go through your dishes with a brief explanation.

How do the Semi Final and Grand Final work?

The Semi Finals will be staged at 10am and 12pm on Tuesday 19 May 2020. The Grand Final will be at 2pm on Tuesday 19 May 2020. The Semi Finals & Grand Final will run the same way as the heats, you will be given the Australian Pork selection prior to starting and will have access to all other ingredients available for you to make up your dishes (the ingredients in the pantry are the only ingredients allowed to be used.

 Make sure you bring along all your colleagues to watch.
What are the judges looking for?

Judges are looking for the best all-round professional chef. This will include your professionalism in the kitchen as well as the final dishes. Here are some of the areas that will be judged:

  • Modern techniques and trends including in touch with today's trends
  • Range and level of technical skills
  • Taste and presentation of individual dishes
  • Creative and competent use of the ingredients especially sponsors ingredients
  • Balance of texture, colour, taste and flavours
  • Management of time and resources including food safety
  • Personal presentation and cleanliness in the kitchen
  • Communication with judges and MC
Some tips from the judges
  • Do not try to do things above your skill set
  • Simple food can win this competition - keep it simple, well cooked, well-seasoned and symmetric
  • Have a written work plan and stick to it
  • Strictly adhere to hygiene and safety standards, as you will be judged on it
  • Time your entry with some time to spare - allow for nerves, unfamiliar surroundings and equipment
  • Don't touch food any more than necessary
  • Don't prepare raw and prepared foods at the same time (cross contamination)
  • Watch your portion control
  • Clean down after each task, keep your area clean, neat and tidy
  • Watch your wastage factors
  • Work cleanly and precisely
  • Show skills, as many as possible
  • Only bring the equipment required, extra equipment is not necessary and will not be allowed
  • Communicate - especially when serving food
  • Cold food badly presented doesn't win medals
  • If you are unsure or need assistance then ask
What can I win?

The Australian Chef of the Year competition is one of the most rewarding in the country. The winner will receive a Unox Oven and $6000 cash.

The eight runners-up will each receive $500 cash. Every other competitor will receive a certificate and chef jacket. Perhaps best of all is the experience of competing against some of the best chefs on the country.

What about my restaurant?

It is important that your entry is supported by your restaurant, cafe, hotel or bar. Let them know that it is a great way to generate publicity and goodwill. As a condition of entry we require that you supply information about the business, information about yourself and a picture in chef whites. All of this information is designed to market you as a chef and your business.

Terms and conditions

This competition is promoted by Specialised Events Pty Ltd. Entries must be submitted online by Friday 24 April 2020. A judging panel will be appointed to choose entries and award points at their absolute discretion. The competition is a game of skill and chance plays no part in the outcome. Competitors are responsible for their own costs to attend the event and give the promoter permission to use their recipes and images for promotional purposes. Competitors enter and compete at their own risk. The promoter accepts no responsibility for loss or injury except for liability that cannot be excluded by law.

What do I do next?

If you think you are good enough then now is the time to submit your entry. Simply fill out the form and press submit. There is no entry fee.