Awards program for hospitality professionals Appetite for Excellence has announced the 2019 national finalists across its three categories: young chef, young waiter and young restaurateur.

The finalists were chosen after a rigorous judging process by a panel made up of Australian hospitality leaders including Jo Barrett, Peter Gilmore, Guy Grossi, Analiese Gregory, Luke Mangan, Dan Hunter, Martin Benn, Kylie Javier-Ashton, Phil Wood, Dan Puskas, Andrew McConnell, Danielle Gjestland, Lisa van Haandel, James Viles, Troy Rhoades-Brown, Richard Ousby and Marilyn Annecchini.

The process commenced in with written applications across three categories, from which the panel of judges selected finalists who moved through to the next round.

The young chef finalists then took part in a three-stage cook off, while the young restaurateurs went through a series of panel and one-on-one interviews that traversed their business plans, growth and direction.

The young waiters were assessed through interviews and knowledge testing before they were observed looking after a table of guests at attended by industry professionals in Sydney earlier this week with a menu by Appetite for Excellence 2016 Young Chef winner Aaron Ward of Ester.

The national finalists will now take part in a three-day produce tour, where they will visit regional locations across New South Wales before returning to Sydney for the Appetite for Excellence Awards Ceremony on 6 August, where the winners will be announced.

Founded in 2005 by Luke Mangan OAM and Lucy Allon, Appetite for Excellence is Australia’s only national awards program for aspiring young chefs, waiters and restaurateurs who want to take their careers to the next level. Previous winners include Josh Niland (Saint Peter), Thi Le (Anchovy), Jake Kellie (Burnt Ends), James Viles (Biota) and Richard Ousby (Stokehouse).

“The hospitality industry has been a big part of my life, so for me it’s important to give something back to the industry that has given me so much,” says Mangan. “Through Appetite for Excellence and the support of Australia’s hospitality industry leaders, we’re doing everything we can to educate and support our young up-and-coming industry professionals.”

The 2019 National Finalists are:

Appetite for Excellence 2019 Young Chef National finalists

  1. Anna Ugarte-Carral, Momofuku Seiobo NSW
  2. Ashley-Maree Kent, Tasca Coolangatta QLD
  3. Bianca Johnston, Tom McHugo’s TAS
  4. George Wintle, Oakridge Wines VIC
  5. James Cole-Bowen, Restaurant Lume VIC
  6. Serkan Tamcelik, Quay Restaurant NSW
  7. Thomas Foster, Cirrus Dining NSW

Appetite for Excellence 2019 Young Waiter National finalists

  1. Caitlin McDonald, Momofuku Seiobo NSW
  2. Caroline Simpson, Rosetta Ristorante VIC
  3. Nance Liong, Momofuku Seiobo NSW
  4. Olivia Evans, Fleet NSW
  5. Orlena Prosser, AKIBA ACT
  6. Sophie Gitterle, Quay Restaurant NSW

Appetite for Excellence 2019 Young Restaurateur National finalists

  1. Charlie Carrington, Atlas Dining VIC
  2. Daisy Miller, Soi38 SA
  3. Hannah Abraham, Il Passagio NSW
  4. Luke Piccolo, Limone NSW
Perrier Aperitivo — Create an Icon Competition

Applications are now open until 30 June, 2019 for the Perrier Aperitivo — Create an Icon Competition. The partnership between Appetite for Excellence and Perrier challenges Australia’s bartenders to create a modern aperitivo cocktail using Perrier mineral water.

This year’s competition will be judged by two of Australia’s best bartenders: Luke Ashton, Diageo’s 2013 World Class Bartender of the Year and owner of This Must Be The Place and Jenna Hemsworth, Head Bartender at Restaurant Hubert, 2018 Australian Bartender of the Year and 2019 Australian Bacardi Legacy Champion.

Finalists will be flown to Sydney to make their Perrier Aperitivo cocktail for the judges and the Perrier team, with the competition winner announced at the Appetite for Excellence Awards Ceremony on 6 August.

The 2019 winner’s prize will include a Virgin Australia return flight from Sydney to Hong Kong and $1000 to spend whilst exploring the vibrant bar scene of Hong Kong.

Further details are available here.


Image: Last year’s finalist on the produce tour.

Image credit: Nikki To

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