Competition rules and handy tips

Chef of the Year - Rules

Australian Professional Chef of the Year is the national 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.

To enter you need to complete the online entry form before 15 April 2024. Our team of industry judges will use that information and their own research to choose the best 32 finalists to compete at the live event in Sydney.

Step one is to answer the following three questions:

1. Are you a professional chef?

2. Are you able to perform confidently and creatively under pressure?

3. Will you be able to attend the finals in Sydney from 19 - 21 May 2024?

If you can answer yes to all three then please continue tell us a little bit about your background, your current role and why you think you should be considered for Chef of the Year. Then just press the submit button!


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

Attend the Foodservice Australia in Sydney 2024 and cook your best dishes in front of a live audience and team of judges. You will be given one hour and a black box of ingredients. Your task is to impress the judges and work your way through to the Grand Final.

How often can I enter?

You are welcome to enter every year. Only one entry is required each time and will be acknowledged by email. If you are chosen to be a finalist and compete then we will limit you to a maximum of three appearances. This will allow more chefs to be involved. 

What do I need to bring?

If you are selected then you just need to bring yourself 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.

How much does it cost?

There is absolutely no charge to enter the competition. However you will be responsible for travel to the competition venue.

How do the heats work?

Each heat will see four chefs competing against each other. There will be four heats on Sunday 19 May and four heats on Monday 20 May. The winner of each heat will go into the semi-finals on Tuesday 21 May. The winners of the semi-final will go into the Grand Final on that same day.   

What time do I have to be there?

You will be allocated a heat. Generally local chefs will be given Sunday and interstate chefs will be given Monday. However special requests will be taken and accommodated where possible. If you win then you will need to come back on Tuesday for the final.

On the day of the competition you need to arrive 30 minutes before your start time and report to Chef Peter Wright at the competition area. He will provide jackets, black box and a short briefing. You then have 15 minutes to gather your thoughts and prepare your workstation. The one-hour competition will start exactly on time.

What is in the black box?

The black box will contain a protein and a small selection of produce that must be used in your dish. You will also have access to a communal pantry with popular ingredients.

What do I need to do?

When the bell sounds you have one hour to prepare your best entrée and main dish (four serves of each dish). These dishes should reflect skill, technique, flavours, texture and best use of the supplied ingredients. Each dish should also reflect you as a chef and highlight your individual style and creativity.

You have sixty minutes to prepare and present your dishes to the judges. You can start plating your dishes from 45 minutes. If you go over time you will lose one-point per minute up to a maximum of five minutes.

How is it scored?

Judges will be scoring you out of 100 based on all elements of your preparation and the final dish. The chef with the highest score for each heat will be the winner. Winners will be announced at the end of the heat.

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:

  • Range and level of technical skills
  • Taste and presentation of individual dishes
  • Balance of texture, colour, taste and flavours
  • Innovation and best interpretation of contemporary trends
  • Creative and competent use of supplied ingredients
  • Management of time and resources including food safety
  • Personal presentation and cleanliness in the kitchen
  • Minimisation of waste
  • 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 Chef of the Year competition is one of the most rewarding in the country with $10,000 prize money and valuable prizes.  

The Chef of the Year will take home the trophy and $6,000 cash. The four grand finalists will each take home a Unox oven. The winner of each heat receives $500. Every competitor will receive a certificate and chef jacket.

Perhaps best of all is the experience of competing against some of the best chefs in the country.

What about my restaurant?

You must represent a foodservice outlet to participate in this event. This can be a café, restaurant, venue or catering business. Your entry must be supported by your employer. Let them know that it is a great way to generate publicity. As a condition of entry we require that you supply information about your business and a photo of yourself in chef whites, which we will use to promote your involvement. 

Can people come and watch?

Yes, you should invite all your colleagues to come and cheer you on. However it is important to note that the competition take place in the middle of a tradeshow. All visitors must be over 16 and work in a food or hospitality business. For free visitor registration go to   

Some more conditions:

This competition is promoted by Specialised Events Pty Ltd. Entries must be submitted online by 15 April 2024. 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. Your details will be recorded and used to send information on this and future events. Your details may also be shared with sponsors. 

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