Applications open for the next generation of culinary leaders.

For more than two decades, Fonterra’s Proud to be a Chef program has helped to fast-track the careers of almost 800 apprentice chefs, providing an unparalleled opportunity to learn from the best in the business and refine their culinary skills.  

In February 2024, 32 apprentice chefs from around Australia will head to Melbourne for a four-day gastronomic adventure, with extraordinary dining experiences, trips to some of Australia’s most famous food-inspired locations, and a fast-paced mentoring program with masterclasses and skills workshops.  

One standout apprentice who best demonstrates their passion, dedication, leadership and skills will be awarded a culinary scholarship tailored to their individual aspirations as a professional chef.  

Headlining Proud to be a Chef as mentors for 2024 are the acclaimed Iron Chef and AnchorTM Food Professionals Executive Chef Mark Normoyle; Executive Pastry Chef and Founder of Kōri Ice Cream Joane Yeoh; and Executive Chef of Omnia Bistro and Yugen Dining and Tea Bar Stephen Nairn.

“I’m so pleased to have two of Australia’s leading chefs joining me as mentors for next year,” says Normoyle.

“They’re really excited to be part of the program and are both heavily committed to developing young chefs which is what Proud to be a Chef is all about. I’m looking forward to hitting the road and visiting TAFES all around Australia to promote the program.

As always, I want to make a call-out to all head chefs, executive chefs and restaurateurs to encourage their apprentices to apply for the program – it truly is a life-changing experience that inspires, encourages and educates, and I guarantee your apprentice will come back more passionate and dedicated than ever.”      

Joanne Yeoh describes Proud to be a Chef as “such a great thing – it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to motivate and educate young apprentices and help equip them to meet the challenges of the kitchen and build a sustainable career for themselves. Being able to invest in them is something I love to do.”  

Stephen Nairn says, “I’m absolutely delighted to be participating as a mentor – I always try to do as much as I possibly can to nurture, inspire and develop youngsters who want to be chefs and are passionate about coming into the industry. I think the role of mentor is super-important when you’re in such a challenging industry as hospitality.”  

This team joins the esteemed alumni of Proud to be a Chef mentors, including Estelle’s Scott Pickett, Ritz Carlton Executive Pastry Chef Kay-Lene Tan, and Adam D’Sylva of Coda and Tonka fame.  

Fonterra Australia’s Foodservice Director Vic Landells said that Fonterra has a proud history of supporting the development of the next generation of culinary leaders.  

“We pioneered the Proud to be a Chef program back in 1997 with the objective of nurturing the culinary talent of tomorrow by providing experiences not normally available to an apprentice chef just starting out.

With a strong focus on mentorship, we aim to teach participants skills they will use for years to come, instil them with greater confidence and a sense that the sky’s the limit,” says Landells.  

The proof is in the pudding – with previous winners securing placements with acclaimed chefs including Eric Teo at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Singapore, Dan Barber at Blue Hill Restaurant and Thomas Keller at Per Se in New York, as well as Michelin star restaurant El Poblet in Valencia – to name just a few.  

”Many in the hospitality industry are doing it tough right now, particularly with labour shortages, so any support we can provide to develop and retain talent in a sector that plays such a huge role in our business, is a win-win,” says Landells.  

Fonterra Australia’s Acting Channel Marketing Manager John Zoghbi continued these sentiments adding that, “We’re constantly looking at how we can make subtle improvements to keep evolving the program, improving the overall experience and engagement for our aspiring apprentices.”  

John noted that each year is not without its challenges and paid tribute to the customers who support the Proud to be a Chef program as a source for energy and motivation to deliver our best each year.  

“While we’re proud to know we have made a positive difference to so many apprentice chefs, there’s still scope for us to be doing more. I would certainly like to think that in another 25 years the program will still be running and having a positive impact on the industry,” says Zoghbi.  

This year the team at AnchorTM Food Professionals has challenged themselves to extend the benefits of the program to more than just the 32 entrants selected as finalists.  

Landells provides some context to this, “We’re highly focused as to how we educate, inspire and connect with our audience, using our socials for more than just talking about the program – we want to share in our applicants’ journeys and create a safe collaborative space for like-minded individuals to communicate their passions and ideas.  

Our goal is to ignite a fresh spark of interest in the foodservice world by encouraging more young people and helping them understand what’s possible through the creation of partnerships and connections.”  

Applications for Proud to Be a Chef 2024 are open until 11.59pm on 22 October 2023. To enter, applicants need to submit an original recipe using an AnchorTM Food Professionals product and answer questions about their career aspirations.

Visit for details.