The winners of the Brett Graham Scholarship, the First Creek Front of House Scholarship and the Hunter Culinary Association Rising Star Award were announced at a gala industry event in Newcastle earlier this week.
Established in 2003 as a partnership between Hunter TAFE and Hunter Culinary Association, the scholarship prize is named after one of the most successful Hunter TAFE alumni, Brett Graham, who now operates The Ledbury in London, this year crowned the 14th best restaurant in the world.
Apprentice chef Nele Sadler from Subo claimed the $10,000 Brett Graham Scholarship, and Stephane Pommier of Muse Dining and Muse Kitchen took out the First Creek Front of House Scholarship worth $6,000.
The inaugural Rising Star Award was presented to Abbey Taylor from Margan Restaurant, who took home a fully funded Diploma of Hospitality Management from Hunter TAFE.
The three Brett Graham Award finalists, Kana Seaton from Emerson's Cafe and Restaurant, Nele Sadler from Subo and Jakeal Hector from Hobarts prepared the evening’s three course meal as the final part of their assessment.
They each had to design, prepare and cook a menu based on ingredients selected by Graham, as well as direct and manage a kitchen ‘support team’ of apprentices.
The individual courses from each finalist were served to 60 industry members, as well as a panel of judges including Troy Rhoades-Brown of Muse Dining, The Herald food editor Lisa Rockman, and Tracey Amos from Hunter TAFE.
Rhoades –Brown said, “While it is always an honour to be involved in the judging process, it never gets any easier. The standard was as high and as creative as ever, with all three finalists showing an excellent understanding of subtle flavour combinations, seasonality and quality produce. We all agreed that Nele was deserving as the eventual winner, and as a previous recipient of the scholarship myself, I know just how positive an impact this win will have on her future career.”
As the scholarship winner, Sadler will have the opportunity to fly to London and work alongside Graham at The Ledbury. After returning home, she will commence a Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery at Hunter TAFE.