Some of the country’s most talented chefs were recognised as industry leaders at the recent Foodservice Australia tradeshow, which hosted a number of competitions including the inaugural Savour Patissier of the Year contest.
Running in Moore Park from 22 to 24 May, the tradeshow included more than 200 exhibitors, the very first National Restaurant Conference, and a number of industry competitions.
The Savour Patissier of the Year competition was held in the Hordern Pavilion and live-streamed on YouTube. The event comprised four categories: tarts, eclairs, macarons and entremets. Thirty chefs took part and were judged by patissiers including World Chocolate Master Frank Haasnoot, World Champion pastry chef Julien Alvarez, Best Chocolates in the World creator Paul Kennedy, and winner of the Pastry World Cup Jordi Bordas.
The event was organised by pastry chef Kirsten Tibballs from Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School.
“I really wanted to establish a professional industry competition where the crme de la crme of pastry chefs could showcase their talent and really get recognition for their craft,” she said. “This competition is the first of its kind in the industry, and is designed to provide a platform to gain really relevant, valuable experience, and exposure to the world’s best.”
Deniz Karaca from Epicure Catering was named Savour Patissier of the Year, winning both the clair and the tart categories. Phillip Khoury was first among the entremets/gateaux contestants, and Eigen Ting won best macaron category. They shared in $42,000 worth of prizes, including a $10,000 cash first prize for Karaca.
Another highlight of the tradeshow was the Unilever Chef of the Year competition, which ran in the middle of the show floor and featured 32 chefs from around Australia.
In addition to John McFadden from Pittwater RSL Club, the 2016 judging panel comprised Le Cordon Bleu’s Karen Doyle and Sam Burke from MLA. Special guest judges assisted in the semi finals and grand final, including Mark Baylis from Unilever Food Solutions, and industry legend Philippe Mouchel, president of Bocuse d’Or Australia and soon to open a new Melbourne restaurant, Philippe’s.
Running over the three days of Foodservice Australia, the winner of each Chef of the Year heat received $500, while the winner of the grand final claimed $6,000.
The grand final saw four chefs go head-to-head: Jesse Hughes from Queenscliff Victoria, Luke Corkery from Port Macquarie NSW, Canberra’s Matt Weller and Paul Hickey from Sydney.
Weller, who works at the Royal Canberra Golf Club, said the most challenging aspects of the competition were “first trying to come up with two great dishes in the 15 minute set up time from a box of mystery ingredients, then having to plan and execute it within the one hour time slot, all while conducting myself in a clean and professional matter in front of a live audience.”
“But like any live culinary competition there is a natural buzz, and the high pressure environment is what us chefs live on,” he said.
“We couldn’t believe how close the scores were for the grand final,” chief judge John McFadden said. “Fifty percent of the points are for taste, but contestants are also marked on their skills in the kitchen, their waste minimisation and their time management. Matt Weller lost some points for being a few minutes overtime, but he was very organised in the kitchen and that –plus the flavour and creativity of his dishes – won him the title.”
The Dairymont Global Pizza Challenge was held for one day only on 22 May, with head judge Neil Abrahams joined by Luke Croston from Made Establishment in Melbourne and Manfred Wittek from Comcater in assessing 18 pizzas across three categories. The overall winner was Simon Best from Augello’s in Mooloolaba in Queensland, who scored the highest points for his Ocean Trout with arancini pizza, which was an entry in the seafood category.
In Australia’s Best Pie Competition, Ka Pies from Melbourne took the crown with a Thai vegetable curry pie. Meanwhile Toodyay Bakery from Toodyay in Western Australia won the Australia’s Best Pastie prize for its traditional pastie. Tony Smith from the Baking Association of Australia said the competition received entries from hundreds of bakeries around Australia, with judges tasting 1,700 pies and pasties in 17 classes.