Finalists ready to battle for Chef of the Year 2018

Sydney will welcome 32 talented chefs from around the nation for the prestigious Chef of the Year contest, to be held at Foodservice Australia trade show 27-29 May at ICC Sydney.

Competition Director Gary Farrell says more than 170 chefs from around Australia applied for the honour of competing, and just 32 were selected. This year the majority of finalists are from New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, plus two from Western Australia and one from Northern Territory.

“The vast number of entries from senior professional chefs demonstrates this title has become one of the most sought-after in the Australian culinary landscape,” says Farrell. “And with a share of $10,000 cash up for grabs, it is also one of Australia’s richest competitions for chefs.”

Returning competitors include Simmer Culinary’s Andrew Ballard, fresh from representing New Zealand at the Bocuse d’Or Asia Pacific in China; Nicola Roberti from Melbourne’s iconic Caffe e Cucina, Naomi Lowry from Culina et Vinum in Sydney, Leslie Austen from the Shamrock Hotel in Numurkah in regional Victoria, Shannon Strange from Bayswater Bar Grill in Hervey Bay and Jesse Hughes from Alma in Geelong. Daniel Wijekoon from Wests Group in Newcastle, who made it to the grand final last year, is also ready to rumble again.

Chefs new to the event in 2018 include Dylan Cashman, owner of the hatted Blue Door on 5th at the Gold Coast, Carolyn Griffiths from Cape Lodge in Margaret River, Renee Martillano from Melbourne’s Eureka89, Vege Rama’s Simone Clement from Brisbane, and Felipe Nuno from Italian favourite Lucios in Paddington, Sydney.

Farrell explains that this year the competition has evolved so that finalists may plan their dishes in the heats. “For the first time we are letting the competitors know in advance what their mandatory proteins will be, and allowing them to pre-order ingredients required for their dishes,” he says. “Then for the semi-finals and grand final there will be a mystery box of ingredients to use. We feel this gives each chef a chance to really showcase their personal style and food philosophy.”

The competition is proudly supported by Australian Pork, Chobani and Unox. Produce will be supplied by PFD and uniforms by Alsco. Organisers also appreciate support from Robot Coupe and ICC Sydney.

John McFadden, Executive Chef at Criniti’s, leads a team of experienced judges including Adam Moore and Epping Club’s Nick Whitehouse. There will be additional guest judges each day including Claire Van Vuuren from Bloodwood Newtown, 2016 Chef of the Year Matthew Weller, Karen Doyle and Steve Belcher from Le Cordon Bleu Sydney and Julio Azzerello from Gourmand Providore.

Foodservice Australia is the only dedicated tradeshow for the restaurant and catering industry. There will be over 300 exhibitors and more exciting competitions, plus free workshops and seminars. Entry is free if you work in the hospitality industry and pre-register online. General public are not admitted.

Foodservice Australia 2018 ICC Sydney Exhibition Centre Open 10am-5pm for three days only: Sunday 27 May, Monday 28 May, Tuesday 29 May.

The Judges:
John McFadden Executive Chef, Criniti’s
Adam Moore Corporate Executive Chef
Nick Whitehouse Executive Chef, The Epping Club

Guest judges:
Julio Azzerello Client Liaison, Gourmand Providore
Steve Belcher Teacher, Le Cordon Bleu Sydney
Karen Doyle Program Manager, Le Cordon Bleu Sydney
Claire Van Vuuren Chef/Owner, Bloodwood Newtown and Popla, Bellingen.
Matthew Weller Head Chef, Bayleaf Catering & Woolstore Café

The Finalists:
Maxime Arnold Head Chef, Wolfe & Molone (Vic)
Leslie Austen Head Chef, Shamrock Hotel (Vic)
Andrew Ballard Owner/Chef, Simmer Culinary (Vic)
Samuel Beatty Executive Chef, Babbingtons Bar & Grill (Vic)
Martin Bouchier Group Executive Chef, BevCo Hospitality (NT)
Darren Bradley Head Chef, Bombetta (NSW)
Adrian Carter Head Chef, European Catering (NSW)
Dylan Cashman Head Chef, The Blue Door on 5th (Qld)
Simone Clemente Head Chef, Vege Rama (Qld)
Nuno Filipe Senior Sous Chef, Lucios (NSW)
Carolyn Griffiths Head Chef, Cape Lodge (WA)
Jonathan Heath Head Chef, Locale Restaurant (NSW)
Kyran Henry Head Chef, Beyond the Pale (Qld)
Megan Hooton Chef, Bread in Common (WA)
Jesse Hughes Owner/Chef, ALMA (Vic)
Guillaume Le Gal Head Chef, Bitton Gourmet (NSW)
Jack Lee Head Chef, Beansmugglers (Vic)
Naomi Lowry Chef Patron, Culina et Vinum (NSW)
Joseph Madurawala Junior Sous Chef, Oasis – The Star (NSW)
Renee Martillano Executive Chef, Eureka89 (Vic)
Jason Martin Executive Chef, Locavore Restaurant (NSW)
Anna Migeon Personal Chef, At Your Table (NSW)
Jordan Monkhouse Head Chef, Momami Restaurant (Vic)
Nicola Roberti Head Chef, Caffe e Cucina (Vic)
Kurt Sonneman Head Chef, Ziva - Club Toukley RSL (NSW)
Jeremy Steele Executive Chef, Gate Gourmet Catering (NSW)
Christian Stone Chef Manager, The Clayfield Carriage House (Qld)
Shannon Strange Head Chef, Bayswater Bar & Bistro (Qld)
Fia Takaia Executive Chef, Waka (Qld)
Tabitha Thomson Executive Chef, Queensland Cricketers Club (Qld)
Brittany Tyrrell Head Chef, The Oaks Hotel
Daniel Wijekoon Sous Chef, Wests Group (NSW)

For more information on the show, exhibitors, special events and registration visit or call Specialised Events on 03 9999 5460.

Note to editors: Lineup of judges and finalists is subject to change due to circumstances outside organisers’ control.