Each year Proud to be a Chef announces a winner from its mentoring program where 32 aspiring Chefs from around Australia compete for a much coveted, and well-earned, culinary scholarship.
The prize means everything to these passionate and dedicated young Chefs – many
of whom will go on to take over and dominate the future of Australia’s restaurant
and hospitality scenes.
This year, the highest accolade was awarded to Georgia Manganas from Wollongong, winning the International Culinary Scholarship. Powered by Fonterra and Anchor Food Professionals, the well-named program, 'Proud to be a Chef' focuses on nurturing and finding emerging culinary stars across Australia. Each year, top honours are awarded to outstanding individuals who have demonstrated exceptional skill, creativity and passion for the culinary arts.
With a judging panel to be in awe of, competitors worked with Proud to be a Chef resident mentor and Anchor Food Professionals Executive Chef, Mark Normoyle; Executive Pastry Chef and Founder of Kori Ice Cream, Joane Yeoh and Executive Chef of Omnia Bistro and Yugen Dining and Tea Bar, Stephen Nairn.
Talking about the 2024 winner, resident Chef Mark said: "Georgia was a quiet achiever in the group and one the mentors considered to have grown the most during the program - we could see her grow day-by-day.
incredibly engaged, always the first to put her hand up and we could see her
quietly observing and taking everything in her stride. Also, exciting to see
the new opportunities that will open for Georgia, now that she has the
confidence to pursue them.”
In response, Georgia remarked about the eye-opening opportunity provided by the program: "We get to see first-hand how far we can go.”
Special mention must go to Alan Andrews who won Best Savoury Dish, with his lamb backstrap with potato fondant, celeriac puree, glazed shallots and charred leek. It was this dish that Mark Normoyle said he would serve in any restaurant: "Where every single component was well-executed and used an old technique in the modern way.”
Alan is currently at Little Black Pig and Sons in Heidelberg, Melbourne.
Head 20 minutes north and you’ll get to The Carlton Hotel, where Chef Alfred
Barretto hails from. His fig and pear medley, which included several components
including fig pannacotta, pear and fig sour cream ice cream and a coffee sauce, awarded him Best Sweet Dish.
Fonterra Australia’s Director of Foodservice, Vic Landells, said that Fonterra - and its foodservice brand Anchor Food Professionals - started Proud to be a Chef almost 25 years ago to give young apprentices exposure to leading professional Chefs through a life-changing mentoring program. Certainly, we here at The Australian Good Food Guide look forward to seeing these bright, young Chefs excel in their already existing careers and perhaps one day, be the reason a restaurant becomes Chef Hatted.