The special award winners for 2020’s Proud to be a Chef mentoring program have been announced at a gala event celebrating the annual program’s 21st year.

The awards came on the back of four days of culinary experiences, workshops, masterclasses with industry leaders and dining a prominent restaurants. The 32 apprentice chefs then participated in a cook-off at William Angliss Institute, before several were handed awards.

The ultimate prize — the Proud to Be a Chef International Culinary Scholarship, valued at $7,500 and tailored to the winner’s personal interests and goals — was awarded to Amber Heaton from The Star Gold Coast.

“Amber’s participation throughout the entire four day program was second to none,” said Mark Normoyle, Proud to Be a Chef mentor and Anchor Food Professionals executive chef. “She soaked up every piece of information like a sponge, she got along well with all the other finalists and in fact went out of her way to help them if they needed a hand, rolling up her sleeves and pitching in whenever there was an opportunity. She was clearly here for all the right reasons and determined to get as much out of the program as possible.”

Best Savoury Dish at the cook-off event was awarded to Felix Carstens for his Salmon with Jerusalem Artichoke Panna Cotta dish, while Jessica Bingham’s Black Forest Dessert took out the gong for Best Sweet.

Carsten was commended for the level of skill he showed in the preparation of his savoury dish. “His knifework, the way he positioned himself while working in a confined space, and his overall execution of the plate was excellent,” said Proud to Be a Chef mentor Adrian Richardson. “And when it came to the table for the tasting, it was cooked perfectly – moist, juicy, seasoned to perfection and a perfect portion size. It was a dish you could find in any five-star restaurant anywhere in the world.”

On the award for best sweet, Proud to Be a Chef mentor Lisa Van Zanten said, “The judging for this particular award was very difficult, because everyone did an amazing job. But Jessica’s sweet was one I really fell in love with — it was a beautiful moulded chocolate mousse in the shape of a cherry, with a shiny red glaze to emphasise that theme, on a bed of cream with chocolate soil around the edge and finished with some fresh cherries. It was absolutely delightful.”

Liam Masters was awarded Best Use of Social Media for documenting the finalists’ journey through the Proud to Be a Chef program. Jordan McDougall and Joshua Freney were recognised for their effort and organisation, with the program’s three mentors announcing them recipients of the Mentor Chefs’ Amazing Attitude Awards.

“Once again we’ve taken 32 apprentice chefs through the program and once again, we’ve been blown away by the commitment, passion, enthusiasm and maturity they’ve demonstrated,” said Kym Gill. “We’re so proud of our finalists and pleased that we have been able to provide them with this experience to support them in the next steps of their journey to become the culinary leaders of tomorrow.”


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