Tetsuya’s apprentice chef Giles Gabutina has been named the winner of the 2017 Fonterra Proud to be a Chef award.

The announcement came at the end of a four day career changing culinary experience and mentoring program that concluded at the RACV City Club on 22 February.

As part of the program, each of the 34 apprentice chef finalists cooked an original recipe that was evaluated by a line-up of foodservice industry leaders.

According to the judges, Gabutina’s Compressed Pineapple, Coconut, Lime and Mint dish, along with his enthusiasm, creativity, leadership and culinary dedication earned him first place in this year’s program.

First prize sees Gabutina receive a $7,500 international culinary scholarship tailored to his personal interests and goals as a professional chef.

Gabutina said “I came into the Fonterra Proud to be a Chef program wanting to learn as much as I could, but I really was not expecting this. I put my heart into the four days and onto the plate. I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with such inspiring masterchefs. The whole experience has given me the chance to grow as both a chef and individual, and become more confident in myself.”

The program allowed the apprentices to take part in field tours, culinary workshops and exclusive dining experiences at a some of Melbourne’s finest restaurants while also gaining industry insights from the program’s mentors, including Buddha Lo, head chef at Matteo’s Restaurant.

Fonterra’s director of foodservice Jeff Dhu said, “For the past 18 years, Fonterra Proud to be a Chef has worked to achieve the same goal – to encourage, reward and recognise the future culinary leaders in foodservice, and to help each individual who participates in the mentoring program realise their potential in this industry.”

Other noteworthy performances this year included that of Wei Lee of WA’s Crown Perth, who was crowned the Savoury Winner with his Oriental Duck l’Orange; Samantha Levett of NSW’s The Star, who was awarded Best use of Social Media and ‘Harry’ Ha Chul Sung of QLD’s Moomoo Wine Bar & Grill who won Best use of Dairy.

In addition to Gabutina’s first place prize, he was also named the Sweet Winner of the program, so both Giles and Lee have been awarded a one-on-one three day training session in the kitchens of the program’s masterchefs.


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