Foodservice 2017 called best show ever

Melbourne’s historic Royal Exhibition Building was home this week to Foodservice Australia, the most exciting industry event of the year. It featured over 250 exhibitors, 25 free workshops, four elite chef competitions, two major conferences and literally thousands of new products and ideas.

Foodservice Australia is the only tradeshow focused on the restaurant and catering sectors. Once a year it brings together buyers and suppliers from around the country to see the latest trends in dining and be inspired by leaders and legends in the field.

Event Director Tim Collett says the show was a huge success. “We had an amazing range of exhibitors and special events, and that helped to draw a record crowd. It was incredibly exciting to see it all come together. The show floor had a real buzz and exhibitors tell us they were doing solid business”.

Special events included the Chef of the Year, National Restaurant Conference, Australian Seafood Summit, Savour Patissier of the Year, Australian Pizza Championships and the Australian selection for the Bocuse d’Or.

On day one the Australian Seafood Summit drew suppliers, chefs and experts to discuss issues in fishing, aquaculture, consumption, sustainability and menu trends. Organiser Roy Palmer from the Association of International Seafood Professionals says it was a huge success and raised issues of global and local importance.

Day two saw top restaurateurs attending the National Restaurant Conference, a national event supported by Restaurant & Catering Australia and powered by Xenipos. Collett says the aim was to “address the issues that keep hospitality operators awake at night. It needed to be focused, sharp and relevant, and it delivered”.

There were 30 speakers in ten sessions. They included Bruce Keebaugh from The Big Group, Chris Lucas from Chin Chin, Hatem Selah from Atlantic Group, John Hart from Restaurant & Catering, Frank Tucker from Rockpool Dining, Matteo Pignatelli from Matteo’s, Gail Donovan from Donovans and tech guru Robert Grimes.

At the heart of the show were two chef competitions – The Chef of the Year and the Bocuse d’Or Australian Selection. Collett says “chefs are the heroes of our industry and so we built the show around them”. Four kitchens were built under the grand dome in the middle of the Royal Exhibition Building, with stadium seating and live commentary.

In an incredible feat never seen before, Michael Cole from Georgie Bass Café & Cooking School took out both titles. He won Chef of the Year in a series of knockout heats among 25 other chefs, as well as being selected from four entrants as Australia’s candidate for the iconic Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest with commis chef Laura Skvor.

The four grand finalists in Chef of the Year were Michael Cole, Chris Wade from Steak Ministry, Daniel Wijekoon from Hobarts by Leslie Taylor and last year’s winner Matt Weller from Bayleaf Catering. The judges were Joh McFadden, Glenn Flood, Sam Burke and Karen Doyle. Sponsors included Chobani, Rare Medium, Unox, Sous Vide Australia, Alsco, University Meat, Robot Coupe and Kangan Institute.

While the one-hour heats in Chef of the Year can be likened to a sprint, the Bocuse d’Or Australian Selection is a marathon. It has just four competitors working for almost six hours to produce intricate dishes according to strict international rules.

Head Judge and Bocuse d’Or Vice President Philippe Mouchel says “it is very tough because the candidates are being marked not only on the taste and presentation of the dishes, but also on their kitchen skills, efficiency and communication with their commis. Michael’s performance was outstanding and it will be a pleasure to train him and Laura over the coming year. From here they go to Singapore in April 2018 and Lyon in January 2019”.

On the gallery level the Savour Patissier of the Year contest attracted large crowds and was also watched by over 100,000 viewers online. There were 30 talented competitors in four categories – tarts, éclairs, entremets and desserts. They were judged by superstar patissiers Jordi Roca (el Celler de Can Roca’s, Spain), Antonio Bachour (Bachour Bakery and Bistro, Florida), Christophe Michalak (French TV star and owner of three patisseries in Paris) and local Paul Kennedy from Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School.

Santiago Cuyugan was named Savour Patissier of the Year and he also won the entremets category. Other category winners were Vincent Denis for tarts, Joshua Cochrane for his éclair and Alessandro Bartesaghi had the winning dessert. Cuyugan won a trophy, a cheque for $15,000, and equipment from sponsors Unox Australia and Robot Coupe, plus an exciting trip to Hong Kong to train with Marike van Beurden at the Ravifruit Studio.

Also on the gallery level, The Dairymont Australian Pizza Championships were held over two days with heats in five categories judged by Glenn Austin, Arnold Tanzer, John Sloane, Cassandra Austin, Neil Abrahams, Monique Cribb and Will Ewing. The winner was Simon Best from Augello’s in Mooloolaba in Queensland, second place went to Giovanna Alberti from Woodstock Pizzeria in Chadstone, Victoria, while Michele Circhirillo from 48h Pizza and Gnocchi Bar in South Yarra, Victoria was placed third.

Lunch and food-to-go was the focus at the Café School, sponsored by Parmalat and En Placé. Free workshops included making the perfect coffee, using native ingredients, innovative snack packs, better breakfast and much more. Presenters included Peter Wright, Graeme McCormack, Andrew Fielke and Liam McLaughlin.

Exhibitors reported doing great business with new and existing customers during the show, with many companies re-booking immediately for the next show in Sydney.

“Foodservice Australia has proven to be one of the most outstanding catering exhibitions ever held in Melbourne,” says Geoff Hunter from Hobart Food Equipment. “The quality of clientele who have been coming to the stand, coupled with the professionalism of the organisers, is unmatched. We look forward to participating on a grand scale in 2018.”

Warwick Shemilt from Evoke Coffee agrees. “The people we need to meet are all here,” he said during the show. “This has been way beyond our expectations in terms of the number and quality of visitors.”

Core Hospitality Furniture’s Chris Hindson says exhibiting at the show was the ideal way to introduce their brand to the East Coast market. “We are market leader in WA, but new to Victoria, this show has been excellent for raising brand awareness and introducing us to buyers.”

The next Foodservice Australia tradeshow will run from 27-29 May 2018 at the new International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour. This will allow the event to grow and reach an even larger audience. For full competition results, photos and more information go to

Media Contact
Sally Cross
Specialised Events
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