Thirty-two talented chefs have been chosen to compete in the annual Chef of the Year competition at Foodservice Australia this month.

Competition director Gary Farrell says more than 170 chefs from around Australia applied this year.

“The vast number of entries from senior professional chefs demonstrates this title has become one of the most sought-after in the Australian culinary landscape,” says Farrell. “And with a share of $10,000 cash up for grabs, it is also one of Australia’s richest competitions for chefs.”

Returning competitors include Simmer Culinary’s Andrew Ballard, fresh from representing New Zealand at the Bocuse d’Or Asia Pacific in China; Nicola Roberti from Melbourne’s Caffe e Cucina; Naomi Lowry from Culina et Vinum in Sydney; Leslie Austen from the Shamrock Hotel in Numurkah in regional Victoria; Shannon Strange from Bayswater Bar Grill in Hervey Bay and Jesse Hughes from Alma in Geelong. Daniel Wijekoon from Wests Group in Newcastle, who made it to the grand final last year, is also gearing up to compete again.

Chefs new to the event in 2018 include Dylan Cashman, owner of the hatted Blue Door on 5th at the Gold Coast; Carolyn Griffiths from Cape Lodge in Margaret River; Renee Martillano from Melbourne’s Eureka89; Vege Rama’s Simone Clement from Brisbane and Nuno Felipe from Italian favourite Lucios in Paddington, Sydney.

For the first time, contestants will have the chance to plan their dishes during the heats.

“For the first time we are letting the competitors know in advance what their mandatory proteins will be, and allowing them to pre-order ingredients required for their dishes,” he says. “Then for the semi-finals and grand final there will be a mystery box of ingredients to use. We feel this gives each chef a chance to really showcase their personal style and food philosophy.”

John McFadden, executive chef at Criniti’s, leads a team of experienced judges including Adam Moore and Epping Club’s Nick Whitehouse. There will also be guest judges each day including Claire Van Vuuren from Bloodwood Newtown, 2016 Chef of the Year Matthew Weller, Karen Doyle and Steve Belcher from Le Cordon Bleu Sydney and Julio Azzerello from Gourmand Providore.

Foodservice Australia will take place at ICC Sydney on 27-29 May, with over 300 exhibitors and free workshops and seminars. Entry is free if you work in the hospitality industry and pre-register online.

The full list of finalists are as follows:

  • Maxime Arnold – head chef, Wolfe & Molone (Vic)
  • Leslie Austen – head chef, Shamrock Hotel (Vic)
  • Andrew Ballard – owner/chef, Simmer Culinary (Vic)
  • Samuel Beatty – executive chef, Babbingtons Bar & Grill (Vic)
  • Martin Bouchier – group executive chef, BevCo Hospitality (NT)
  • Darren Bradley – head chef, Bombetta (NSW)
  • Adrian  Carter – head chef, European Catering (NSW)
  • Dylan Cashman – head chef, The Blue Door on 5th (Qld)
  • Simone Clemente – head chef, Vege Rama (Qld)
  • Nuno Filipe – senior sous chef, Lucios (NSW)
  • Carolyn Griffiths – head chef, Cape Lodge (WA)
  • Jonathan Heath – head chef, Locale Restaurant (NSW)
  • Kyran Henry – head chef, Beyond the Pale (Qld)
  • Megan Hooton – chef, Bread in Common (WA)
  • Jesse Hughes – owner/chef, ALMA (Vic)
  • Guillaume Le Gal – head chef, Bitton Gourmet (NSW)
  • Jack Lee – head chef, Beansmugglers (Vic)
  • Naomi Lowry – chef patron, Culina et Vinum (NSW)
  • Joseph Madurawala – junior sous chef, Oasis – The Star (NSW)
  • Renee Martillano – executive chef, Eureka89 (Vic)
  • Jason Martin – executive chef, Locavore Restaurant (NSW)
  • Anna Migeon – personal chef, At Your Table (NSW)
  • Jordan Monkhouse – head chef, Momami Restaurant (Vic)
  • Nicola Roberti – head chef, Caffe e Cucina (Vic)
  • Kurt Sonneman – head chef, Ziva – Club Toukley RSL (NSW)
  • Jeremy Steele – executive chef, Gate Gourmet Catering (NSW)
  • Christian Stone – chef manager, The Clayfield Carriage House (Qld)
  • Shannon Strange – head chef, Bayswater Bar & Bistro (Qld)
  • Fia Takaia – executive chef, Waka (Qld)
  • Tabitha Thomson – executive chef, Queensland Cricketers Club (Qld)
  • Brittany Tyrrell – head chef, The Oaks Hotel
  • Daniel Wijekoon – sous chef, Wests Group (NSW)

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