Chef of the Year 2017

After three grueling days of competition Michael Cole from Melbourne has been named the 2017 Professional Chef of the Year, and in a remarkable double act was also selected to be the Australian candidate for the Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest.

The Chef of the Year is an annual competition that pits top professional chefs against each other and the clock. They have to produce their best dishes from a black box of ingredients and are judged by their peers.

This year the selection for the Australian team to attend the Bocuse d’Or in France also took place alongside. That meant Michael Cole was cooking for seven hours in the morning to win the selection, and then turned around to cook in the Grand Final.

Head Judge John McFadden from the Parkroyal Sydney said it was a stellar effort. He says Cole from Georgie Bass on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula impressed the judges of both competitions with his cooking techniques and clean flavours.

“The difference in the kitchen came down to his technique - excellent food safety practices and bench work – and then a stunning finished product. Michael’s technical ability and confidence really showed on the plate”.

McFadden also praised the other finalists in the Chef of the Year competition. They were Chris Wade from Steak Ministry in Melbourne, Daniel Wijekoon from Hobarts by Leslie Taylor in Newcastle, and last year’s titleholder Matt Weller, who has recently moved to Melbourne to work with Bayleaf Catering.

“All the judges were blown away that the benchmark was so high this year. Matt Weller is a member of Australia’s Culinary Team and was Pacific Champion Global Chef 2016. However Daniel Wijekoon had never participated in a cooking competition before. We watched him closely and he grew through the competition,” says McFadden.

The Professional Chef of the Year is one of the most rewarding in the country, with a total cash prize pool of $10,000. In addition all four grand finalists took home a Unox Oven and $1000 marketing voucher from Rare Medium.

Competition Director Gary Farrell says the event was supported by a fantastic group of sponsors. Gold Sponsors were Rare Medium, Chobani and Unox Australia. Silver sponsors were Sous Vide Australia, Alsco, University Meats, Kangan Institute and Robot Coupe.

“We are proud to be a sponsor under our Rare Medium banner” says MLA corporate chef and foodservice manager Sam Burke. “It shows us what’s happening out there with the product, how it’s being used in a foodservice environment. This has been an amazing experience and a highlight of my career to be involved.”

The Chef of the Year ran as part of the highly successful Foodservice Australia tradeshow in Melbourne. The next event will be held from 27-29 May 2018 at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. Entries will open later this year at