Who is Australia's best professional chef?

The Chef of the Year competition sees chef compete against chef and the clock in a test of creativity, culinary knowledge and ingenuity. They have one hour to prepare two signature dishes utilizing sponsors products.

This annual competition attracts entries from professional chefs from around Australia. There is a strict set of criteria, and a team of culinary experts to judge the winner. It is the most highly regarded and competitive professional chef event in the country.

In May 2018 the competition was held at the convention centre in Sydney, right in the middle of the Foodservice Australia exhibition. There were a record 180 entries from around Australia. From that amazing group of chefs our judges selected 32 to compete in the live kitchens in Sydney. That is when the real competition began with three days of tough knock out rounds.

The four candidates who met in the Grand Final were Andrew Ballard (Simmer Culinary), Naomi Lowry (Culina et Vinum), Jason Martin (Locavore) and Jack Lee (Beansmugglers). Each were given one hour and sponsors ingredients to showcase their two dishes. At the end it was Jack Lee who took the crown and has been named Chef of the Year 2018.

Thank you to senior judges John McFadden, Adam Moore and Nick Whitehouse. Also guest judges Karen Doyle, Julio Azzarello, Steve Belcher, Tony Panetta, Claire Van Vuuren and Peter Howard AM. Competition Director was Gary Farrell assisted by Renee Rossitto and Matt Weller.

Chef of the Year will return to Melbourne from 23-25 June 2019. Entries are now open - see below form.

Chef of the Year

To enter the Chef of the Year simply complete this entry form and press submit at the end. Your entry will then be considered by the judging panel who will select the finalists.

Entry is open to any professional chef working in Australia at a junior sous chef to Executive chef level. 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.

In order to compete you must be able to answer 'Yes' to these questions:

1. Are you currently working as a professional chef junior sous chef and above?

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

3. Will you be able to attend the finals in Melbourne from 23-25 June 2019?

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 is open to professional Australian Chefs at a Junior Sous Chef level to Executive Chef. Tell us your background and why you think you should be considered for Chef of the Year. Our team of industry judges will use that information to choose the best finalists to compete at the live event in Melbourne. Entries close at 5pm on 31 May 2019.

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

Attend the Foodservice Australia in Melbourne in June and cook your signature dishes in front of a live audience and team of judges. You will be given one hour and Sponsors 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 Melbourne. 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 23 June - Tuesday 25 June 2019. You will be given your exact competing times closer to the event.

How do the heats work?

There will be four heats on Sunday 23 June and four heats on Monday 24 June. 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 25 June.

You will be told the what cut of Australian Pork you need to use prior to the competition along with what dry goods and fruit and vegetables are available on the day. On competition day you will need to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your start time 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. Prior to actual competition you will have 15 minutes to set up your individual work stations to suit your needs, select ingredients from the pantry and hand in your dish description and prepare yourself for the competition. (Australian Pork session selection will be given to you at this time also).

When the bell sounds you will have one hour to prepare and serve your two dishes (four serves of each). Dishes can be an entrée or main course. These dishes should reflect skill, technique, flavours, texture and best use of Australian Pork matched with sponsors selection of ingredients. Each dish should also reflect 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 to be considered. 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 does the Semi Final & Grand Final work? The Semi Finals will be staged from 9.30am, Grand Final will be from 1.30pm on Tuesday 25 June 2019. 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 31 May 2019. 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.

Terms & Conditions

Please review the competition rules