Culinary Teacher, Chat Potato
Ai studied at the renowned Tsuji cooking school in Osaka, returning to Chiba to work at a local Japanese -French restaurant. She then travelled to Lyon in France to study further while working at Chateau de Bagnole as an apprentice. Returning to Japan she was the first female cook at the one Michelin star Mona Lisa French restaurant in Tokyo for 2 years before taking a position at Le Gavroche in London for a further 2 years. She arrived in Melbourne to take up the Chef de partie position at Philippe Mouchel’s Brasserie in the Crown Casino. Following further study Ai became the office manager at Izakaya Enterprises working with Simon Denton and his team. Currently she is a working mother who runs her own business, Chat Potato, teaching authentic Japanese cookery.
Head Chef, Pastuso
Alejandro has worked in esteemed restaurants in Peru and Europe including the Fat Duck in London and Le Ambassadors in Paris as well as many well-known restaurants in Sydney. In October 2011 he opened Morena in Surry Hills becoming the first Peruvian restaurant to be featured in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. In 2014 Pastuso in AC/DC Lane was established.
Head Chef, Koy
Alex studied in Europe to become a Chef and spent 12 years working to gain experience in different regions of Greece and, as a restaurant owner in Athens. In 2011 he returned to Australia to take up a position at the Surf Club in Brisbane with celebrity Chef, Ben O'Donohue. Back in Melbourne, Alex is now working at the South Melbourne Market as Head Chef of the established and the popular Turkish restaurant, Koy.
Head Chef, Hellenic Republic Brighton
Alex studied Applied Science at the University of Queensland before commencing his apprenticeship in 2008 at the award winning Isis Brasserie. After its completion he moved to Athens to deepen his understanding of Greek culture and food. There he worked at the two Michelin star restaurant Funky Gourmet, specialising in molecular cuisine. Returning to Australia in 2013 he joined the Made Establishment Group as Sous Chef of George Calombaris’ flagship restaurant, The Press Club. In 2014 he became Head Chef of Hellenic Republic Kew overseeing Hellenic Mastic, events and the restaurant itself. In late 2017, he moved as Head Chef to the group's latest restaurant in Brighton.
Executive Chef, The Point, Albert Park
After completing his Chef training at Paul Heathcote, Lancashire in England, Andy continued to gain experience working at various premium restaurants around the world such as the two star Michelin, Les Crayeres in France and at D.O.M. with Alex Atala, a Brazilian Chef whose restaurant is rated 4th best in the world by the S.Pellegrinos world’s 50 best restaurants. He also holds the title of Acqua Panna Best Restaurant in South America. Arriving in Melbourne, Andy worked as Executive Chef at Vue Du Monde alongside Shannon Bennett for 7 years followed by time as Head Chef at Virginia Plain before taking over The Point, Albert Park as Executive Chef.
Culinary Teacher/Owner, My Lebanese Kitchen
Bernadette Cheet is the founder of My Lebanese Kitchen cooking school. Being of Lebanese heritage, Bernadette has had the privilege of growing up with three generations of amazing Lebanese cooks in Australia and Lebanon. Through these wonderful cooks, she developed a strong passion and love for Lebanese food: its aroma, unique flavours and earthy colours. She now enjoys sharing the secrets of this cuisine through her cooking classes.
Executive Chef, The Smith
Brad began his career at 17 when he left school in his home country of New Zealand to become a Chef. After completing his Diploma of Culinary Arts at Waikato Polytechnic he worked at some of the best fine dining restaurants across the country including Icon with acclaimed chef Peter Thornley and Citron with Rex Morgan. After moving to Melbourne in 2004, he has worked with Michael Lambie continually, starting at the newly opened Taxi Dining Room helping it to win two hats in the Age Good Food Guide and Restaurant of the Year in its first year of operation. Over the next two years, he worked his way up to Sous Chef before joining the team to Lamaros in South Melbourne as Head Chef for five years. In 2011 he moved to The Smith Restaurant & Bar in Prahran where he currently holds the position as Executive Chef. During his career Brad has also been a finalist in The Age Food Guide Young Chef of the Year Awards in 2011, 2012 & 2013.
Head Chef, Transformer
Bryce started his career some 20 years ago in Melbourne. Since then he has traveled extensively to work in countries such as France, England and Canada. His focus on fresh, seasonal plant based cuisine has come from time spent in the markets of southern France and Italy. Currently he is Head Chef at the popular vegetarian/vegan restaurant Transformer, in a converted warehouse in Fitzroy.
Owner/Food Consultant, A Bit of Jam & Pickle
Caroline has gained her extensive experience in the food and hospitality industries over 30 years. In the past 15 years her interest has focussed on artisanal preserving where she has been recognised as an award winning expert in this field. Besides teaching in several cooking schools around Melbourne, Caroline also assists clients in product development and contract production. Using her grandmother’s copper pan she enjoys sharing her knowledge whilst teaching how to make the very best jams, jellies, marmalades, pickles and relishes.
Chaowarat (Arte) Assavakavinvong
Head Chef, Longrain
Arte’s career began in 2007 at Poppy’s Thai Restaurant in Camberwell. After completing his Diploma at the William Angliss Institute in 2009 he worked as Chef de partie at Seamstress Restaurant and Bar until 2011. He then joined the Thai Restaurant, Longrain as a Sous Chef. In 2015 he became Head Chef at the Village People Hawker Food Hall in Fitzroy. During the past 7 years, Chaowarat also gained some work experience at Nahm Restaurant in Bangkok, participated in a small competition in Iron Chef’s Thailand in 2012 and last year was involved in The Living Room at Channel TEN, cooking with Miguel. Recently, Arte was appointed to the Head Chef position at Longrain Restaurant and Bar in the CBD.
Head Chef, Atlas Dining
Charlie Carrington started his chef’s career at 16 venturing to London for work experience at the three Michelin starred restaurant, Gordon Ramsay. Following his training there he returned to Melbourne and joined the team at Vue De Monde before heading to Sydney to work with Mark Best at Marque and Lennox Hastie at Firedoor. With the ambitious idea to open his own restaurant, Charlie embarked on an eight month research trip spanning 15 countries across South and North America, Europe and Asia. During his travels he gained experience working in kitchens from Antwerp to San Francisco, Bangkok, Singapore La Paz, in Mexico City and San Paulo. On his return to Australia he began the search for a location of his own and in September 2016 he opened Atlas Dining in South Yarra. Based on his travels, the food and beverage service is transformed every four months to another exciting cuisine.
Owner/ Chef, Food & Joy
Charlotte, a qualified chef and registered Dietitian, returned to Melbourne after seven years overseas working as Head Chef on large private and charter yachts. She is the founder and owner of Food & Joy, a business focusing on teaching cooking and sustainable eating habits to individuals and groups.
Head Chef, Fondata 1872 at Wellers
Chris' Italian heritage and early experiences in Italian and European kitchens helped develop his passion for Italian cuisine. This led him to Sapore in 2007 where he worked for two years as Sous Chef before heading to Europe to hone his skills. His stay in Europe included a stint at Phil Howard’s Michelin starred restaurant Kitchen W8, The Orange Public House which was awarded ‘Best New Gastro Pub’ the year Chris was there, and time on a super yacht in the Mediterranean.. Following his experience at Cucinetta in Sth Yarra, Chris is now head chef at Fondata 1872 at Wellers.
Coskun grew up in Istanbul where his mother taught him basic kitchen skills and an appetite for authentic Turkish flavour combinations. After studying tourism and hotel management Coskun’s passion for his native cuisine drove him to pursue a career as a Chef. In London he studied at Prue Leith’s School of Food and Wine. Whilst abroad he also gained work experience at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and the River Café. Returning home Coskun worked for the House Group and, over 13 years rose to become the Group’s Executive Chef working with a team of over 150 Chefs and managing twelve plus four hotel restaurants in Istanbul as well as Ankara and the Middle East. Following this success, Coskun opened his own modern Turkish restaurant’ Moreish’ quickly gaining recognition of New York and London critics. After relocating to Melbourne he took positions at Vue De Monde and Attica but, it was at Pei Modern during a stint as guest chef that his flair for fusing classic Anatolian recipes with modern techniques was recognized. It was a turning point. Coskun opened his own restaurant called Tulum in Balaclava where his menus are now re-writing the rule book on Anatolian cuisine in Australia.
Owner/ Head Chef, Uncle Restaurants
An enthusiastic and talented Chef, Dai gained overseas experience with the Terence Conran Hotel Group. He returned to Melbourne as Head Chef at The Pelican for six years and then at Dandelion for a year, before opening his first restaurant Uncle in St Kilda. Following the success of his first restaurant he opened a second venue at Collin St Melbourne’s CBD.
Owner/Chef, Piper Street Food Company
Growing up the son of chefs and restaurateurs, it now seems inevitable that Damian would end up in the kitchen as a career. After starting his apprenticeship in the nineties in his mother’s restaurant, Erica’s Brasserie, he quickly found himself at home in the familiar surrounds of a busy kitchen, and thrived in the high pressure environment. After completing his apprenticeship and working his way up the ranks through various restaurants in Adelaide, he set off for a 12 month stint in Europe, travelling and working his way around western and Eastern Europe. Arriving back in Australia, Damian moved to Melbourne to take up a position at one of Melbourne’s most renowned restaurants, Il Bacaro. In 2006 Damian moved his small family to Kyneton to open his own restaurant, the award-winning Pizza Verde. The restaurant was sold in 2010, allowing Damian to establish The Piper St. Food Company, a beautiful picnic shop and cooking school based on traditional cooking around a shared table.
Head Chef, Maha Restaurant
Born in the Caribbean, Daniel worked for several years at the luxury ‘Millennium Resort’ in the Dominican Republic before travelling extensively in the United States of America, Europe and South America where he gained wide experience across a range of cuisines. His education and professional development continued with internships at leading restaurants across the globe including Germany’s one Michelin star ‘Die Muhenhelle’. On arrival in Melbourne, Daniel became Sous Chef at the Rydges Hotel, four star Restaurant. After 2 years he took up an offer to work under ex-Vue de Monde Head Chef, Andrew Harmer at The Point Albert Park. He joined Shane Delia at Maha in 2014 as Sous Chef and in September 2015 was appointed Head Chef. In 2016, under his leadership Maha retained its one Chef Hat in The Age Good Food Guide.
Head Chef, POW Kitchen
Daniel’s career started at the Stokehouse, St Kilda before moving to Longrain as Sous Chef. In 2010 he was recruited by Paul Wilson to assist in opening the Newmarket Hotel as Senior Chef. Four years later he was the Executive Chef of this hotel and the Acland Cantina. He is currently the Head Chef at POW Kitchen in St Kilda.
Pastry Chef, Grosvenor Hotel
Daniel left the finance world in 2008 to follow his dream to become a pastry chef. After he completed a patisserie course at William Angliss Institute he continued training, working with the highly esteemed French Pastry Chef, Pierrick Boyer at Melbourne’s Le Petit Gateau.
After 2 years James joined The Point Albert Park, where he was appointed Head Pastry Chef in 2012. In 2014 he transferred his expertise to the popular Grosvenor Hotel in St Kilda. In 2016, he launched Daniel James Patisserie, supplying high quality desserts to various hospitality venues and also launched ‘Scoops and Smiles’ an artisan gelato company with Head Chef, Paul Tyas.
Head Chef/ Owner, Huxtaburger
As a past winner of the Age Young Chef of the Year, Daniel's experiences include New York, Melbourne's Blake's Cafeteria and Arintji. Daniel was owner and head chef of Huxtable, the acclaimed Smith street restaurant. He is now the proud owner of Huxtaburger and its offshoots.
Chef/Industry Trainer, William Angliss Institute
David was an Executive Chef at the Victorian Arts Centre, operated his own café/ food business and represented Australia twice at the Culinary Olympics receiving three gold medals! He now teaches and writes about food and travel.
Chef de Partie, Burma Lane
Dino’s interest in authentic Korean food started with his loving grandmother in her kitchen tasting and approving every dish before meal times. At the time of his military service and his parents opening a restaurant Dino studied and gained certificates in Zen Vegetarian, Korean and Western cuisines. Between 2010 -2014 he worked in Seoul, as Chef de Partie at Dong-gang Restaurant and as both Chef de Partie then Head Chef at Min’s Kitchen. Arriving in Melbourne in 2015 Dino worked at Red Spice QV, Burma Lane and Lucky Penny. During this time he completed his Certificate 111 and IV in Commercial Cookery in Sydney. In February 2016 he returned to Burma Lane where he is currently the Chef de Partie.
Chef, Industry Trainer
Emma Mackay started her career during the height of the Nouvelle Cuisine rampage of the 80s, working at Iain Hewitson’s Three Hat restaurant Fleurie. In 2002 Emma was awarded Young Chef of the Year while co-heading the kitchen at Blakes Cafeteria. Emma is now a certified Industry Trainer with an approach to cooking which is fun, informative and hands-on.
Foost Colourful Chefs
Dietitians, nutritionists and educators, Foost
Foost’s vision is to make meal and snack times more colourful. Through their unique, anti-boring and simple programs and products, Foost has inspired over 37,000 people to be healthier. Foost is made up of a team of dietitians, nutritionists, mums and educators with a passion for helping others. They love food and they love living and eating colourful. The Foost team have a knack for making anything food related seem simple.
Geraldine is a Culinary Teacher and Home Economist who trained in Melbourne and at the Cordon Bleu in the United Kingdom. Her career has involved working with major food and appliance companies in Australia and as a free-lance consultant. It was in these positions where she gained considerable experience in creative recipe development, food styling, catering, as a food presenter and walking tour guide. Geraldine enjoys sharing her passion and love for cooking with fresh, seasonal produce through teaching classes where recipes are designed for both every day and entertaining.
Cheesemaker/Owner, That’s Amore Cheese
In 2004, Giorgio arrived in Melbourne from Sicily without a word of English. It was his first job in a cheese factory where he became interested and passionate about making cheese. After just 4 years, he started his own business ’That’s Amore Cheese’. He initially made only one product, ‘Bocconcini leaf’ which became an instant success in Italian restaurants. Chefs admired his artisan skills in making handmade cheeses. This meant he could make and market more cheese varieties, resulting in his business growing rapidly. In April 2010, he opened his factory in Donnybrook, just outside Melbourne and five years later, moved his operation to a bigger factory in Thomastown accommodating a café, cooking classes and extensive retail outlet offering a wide range of artisan cheeses and other Italian products.
Cooking teacher, The Thoughtful Kitchen
The Thoughtful Kitchen, powered by Leftover Lovers, is all about celebrating diverse and sustainable food. For over three years we have been spreading our passion for reducing food waste in the community through workshops, demonstrations, and talks through both ticketed and free-to-public events across Australia. Our work creates conversations about the problems with our modern connection to food and its origins, and how we can reimagine the value that wasted food holds. Through shouting out love for eating in season, and celebrating the work of local food producers, traders, and growers, the Thoughtful Kitchen shows people how they can eat more simply, deliciously, and sustainably whilst saving money and having a munching good time.
Head Chef, Oakridge Winery
Jo grew up in Melbourne and can’t remember a time when she did not love cooking. As an award winning apprentice, Jo studied in Canada in 2007. Returning home she has been an impressive Sous Chef in a variety of settings including Movida Bakery, with Shaun Quade at Collins Square (Bar National, Long Shot& Web Catering) and Tivoli Rd Bakery.
Jo’s seamless transition to artisan bread and pastry added artistry to Matt Stone’s progressive team at Stanley Street Merchants, Sydney’s first people’s choice/crowd funded restaurant. With her passion for local, sustainably sourced, seasonal produce, she also worked at Brothl another Stone/Joost project. Jo strives to minimize waste in her work and for this she has won a string of hospitality awards including: ‘Best Desserts’, Delicious 16; ‘Hot Talent’, Timeout Magazine 2016; ‘Next Gen Top 50 Chefs’, Food Service Magazine 2017 and ‘Trail Blazer’, Melbourne Food and Wine 2017. Currently she is Co-Head Chef with Matt Stone at Oakridge Winery in the Yarra Valley, being awarded the ‘Hottest Regional Restaurant 2016; and ‘Top 50’ John Lethlean The Australian. Jo describes cooking for the world’s 50 best Chefs in the inaugural Melbourne hosted event this year as a ’truly amazing and humbling experience’.
Chef/ Owner, Saxe
Joe’s early career took him overseas to work at The Square in London where he not only gained further experience but developed his own innovative cooking style influenced by Phillip Howard’s modern- classic French techniques and artful plating. Returning to Melbourne, Joe worked as Executive Head Chef of The Press Club and Little Press for four years. For the last 3 1/2 years he has been the Owner and Head Chef of the very successful two Hat, Saint Crispin in Collingwood. In September, he launched his first solo restaurant venture, Saxe, in the CBD legal precinct where he is forging his own path combining ambitious, precise modern French cooking with a relaxed and approachable vibe.
Executive Chef/National Manager , Aveo Group
John’s professional career began with a cooking apprenticeship at the Southern Cross, one of Melbourne’s past iconic hotels. During this time John represented Australia at the Culinary Olympics in Germany, winning a prestigious Gold Medal. Since then, John has experienced 30 years working with celebrated chefs such as Stephanie Alexander and elite athletes such as Cathy Freeman. In 2009 John co-founded Dineamic Australia, a healthy solution to ready-made meals borne from a shared vision in conjunction with a former professional footballer, Jason Johnson and Karen Inge, a leading sports dietitian. Currently John manages over 70 kitchens insuring fresh, healthy meals are prepared for over 13,000 residents within the Aveo Group.
Executive Chef, Red Spice Group
John’s culinary adventures through Asia began in his twenties on a trip to Thailand. Returning to Melbourne his home town, he started his career as an apprentice at the Australia Hotel. Extensive experience followed at restaurants including Livebait, under Cath Claringbold’s mentorship, Botannical, No 3 Station Pier and the Establishment. John accepted the reins at Red Spice Road in late 2007, quickly cementing his reputation with The Age Epicure lauding his food as ‘uniformly impressive’. His next position was to establish Spice Road QV and more currently, Burma Lane. John has proudly contributed and shared his knowledge through the William Angliss Great Chef’s program and Hanoi’s KOTO (Know One to Teach One). His proudest achievement has been the publishing of his cookbooks namely, The Red Spice Road Cookbook, Bits on Sticks and The Road to QV. As the Red Spice Group Executive Chef, he travels regularly to South East Asia to further his knowledge in traditional methods and ingredients, returning to design and adapt dishes for his restaurant menus.
John Paul Twomey (JP)
Executive Chef, Carlton Wine Room
John Paul moved to Australia from England in the year 2000. Settling in Melbourne, he worked with Paul Wilson at Radii at the Hyatt and The Botanical Hotel. From 2005 he spent the next 10 years working alongside Andrew McConnell starting at Circa The Prince followed by Three one two, Cutler & Co as the founding Head Chef and, for four years as Head Development Chef for the group. With his incredible hospitality experiences John Paul is now the Head Chef of the new look Carlton Wine Room.
Group Executive Chef, Undercover Roasters
Lasse Povlsen started his career at Henne Kirkeby Kro, a two Michelin starred venue on the west coast of Denmark. Following training in classical Danish and French cuisine he worked across Michelin awarded venues in Copenhagen including Nimb Louise and Retour. In Melbourne he has worked into some of our top restaurant kitchens including Attica, Circa, The Prince and Cumulus. Seeking a change in environment, Lasse set up his own consultancy in Richmond to help businesses get off the ground. Lasse recently left Denmark House as their Culinary Consultant to take up a full time position as Group Executive Chef of Undercover Roasters, a specialist food and drink Company.
Chef and consultant, The Wandering Chef
Laura Neville's life revolves around food, foraging and creating unique experiences for diners under her business banner, ‘The Wandering Chef’. Her work includes consulting for cafes, restaurants and corporate branded product development, around Australia and internationally. ‘We are Kerala, a modern South Indian dinner series. Mentoring with Free to feed, and the recently launched in Melbourne ‘Death to Nuggets’, an interactive dining experience for children.
This self-titled 'Wandering Chef' has been working behind the scenes of gourmet dining experiences for over 17 years now. Working in Melbourne (Executive Chef at Code Black and Cafenatics), Sydney (Bistro Moncur) and London (Soho House and Racine in South Kensington).
From dinner series to restaurant openings and educational programmes- there’s not a lot that Laura hasn’t cooked up. Laura will be bringing her extensive knowledge of food, refreshing innovation and fine dining execution to these masterclass workshops.
Head Chef, Sebastian Beach Grill and Bar
Leigh credits his cooking style to thorough training and the influence of his grandmother’s nostalgic, home-style recipes. His career as a Chef has included work at the Kooyong Tennis Club, Le-Deck at Cap-Breton in Spain’s Basque French region and, as Executive Chef of the Radisson at Flagstaff Gardens. In 2016 the hotel won the Hospitality Magazine’s Best Restaurant Award. Leigh has also been the runner up in the Magazine’s Chef of the Year South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand competition. With more than 15 years’ experience behind him, Leigh was the perfect choice to become Head Chef of the Sebastian Beach Bar and Grill in Williamstown. Adopting a coast-to-coast philosophy, Leigh brings the best of Basque country cuisine to this beach front venue.
Culinary Teacher/Director, Dumpling Mania
Born in California, Lou was taught dumpling making by her mother. Inspired by family memories she started classes to share her skill and knowledge.
Chef, La Central Spanish Deli & Bodega
Born in Barcelona, Marc and his family moved to the Balearic Islands at a young age where he later graduated in Hospitality from The University of Islas Baleares.
Since then Marc has travelled extensively and worked in a range of restaurants across Europe, including Germany and Belgium, before he returned to Spain to take the helm of some of Spain’s most prestigious 5 star hotels. Marc moved to Australia in 2009 and since then he has worked in some of Melbourne’s best loved Spanish and Mediterranean restaurants including Boozy Rouge, The Robert Burns Hotel and Movida. In December 2018, Marc joined La Central as Head Chef where he is creating a delicious range of tapas, using the finest ingredients from some of the best producers in Spain.
Head Chef, Añada
Maria grew up in Estonia with a family passionate about travel and cooking, sparking her interest in culinary arts at an early age. She began her career as a Chef at Caravan King’s Cross in London, where she trained under a collection of Australian Chefs, as well as cooking alongside a team who went on to work at Copenhagen’s landmark restaurant, Noma.
Upon making the move to Australia, she landed the role as Sous Chef at Anada Bar & Restaurant, spending three years in the kitchen under the Head Chef Russell Hall and Chef Restaurateur Jesse Gerner. When the Head Chef moved to work at Park St in Carlton North, Maria stepped into the Head Chef position. As a fierce advocate for women in the culinary scene, Maria runs an all- female kitchen and is currently looking forward to her team bringing the Spanish restaurant into its tenth year of business in Fitzroy.
Head Chef, Bomba
Matt began his career in hospitality with an apprenticeship with Vue de Monde Group at Bistro Vue. After 18 months, he commenced work at the small rustic restaurant Italian restaurant, Lupino. It was here that he mastered the skills of fresh bread and pasta, and learnt the importance of doing something you love as a job. Two years later he joined the team at the Fitzroy institution, Hell of the North, where he began to define his culinary skills working with traditional French techniques. One year on, Matt joined the team at Bomba Tapas Restaurant where he has gradually worked his way up the ranks to being appointed Head Chef.
Head Chef/Owner, Mr Ottorino
Matteo is passionate about his Sicilian and Southern Italian heritage being a first generation Australian and grandson of one of Melbourne’s first pastry chefs. Following 11 years at Grossi Florentino, developing his culinary skills Matteo is now the proud owner and Head Chef of his own restaurant, Mr Ottorino named after his Nonno. His philosophy is to combine his culinary expertise and ‘break the mould’ of stereotyped pasta and pizza menus by pointing the spotlight on a variety of inherited traditional family recipes from villages across Southern Italy.
Chef de Cuisine, Grossi Florentino
Matteo Toffano who is a passionate Chef, presenter and mentor, with experience at the 3 starred Michelin restaurant "Le Calandre" with Chef Massimiliano Alajmo, Matteo is currently Chef de Cusine at Grossi Florentino Upstairs. Matteo has travelled extensively with Guy Grossi, presenting Italian cooking to students and enthusiasts and highlighting the importance of Australia’s produce and culture. Veneto born, Matteo achieved a professional Diploma of Chef of Italian Cusine from the Internationally acclaimed "la Scuola internazionale di cucina italiana " Gualtiero Marchesi, Alma as well as a diploma at the Vocational School for Hotel Management & Catering in Asiago, Italy. A keen participant within the industry, Matteo has been involved in many culinary competitions achieving finalist of Uniliver chef of the year 2017 and 2018, silver medal at the battle of the pacific at the fine food Melbourne 2014, and gold medal at the first Italian cooking cup 2012. He has recently been selected as one of the ten semi-finalist (Pacific) for the prestigious San Pellegrino Chef of the Year 2018.
Chef, Super Ling
Michael started his career studying at the William Angliss Institute in Melbourne. He then spent time working as a chef at several prestigious restaurants including five years at Movida Next Door; three years with Victor Leong, starting with opening his Chinese restaurant Lee Ho Fook; 8 months as Sous Chef with Jo Barrett and Matt Stone at Oakridge Winery in the Yarra Valley, and some time at the impressive Korean Restaurant Shik. Recently Michael and the Hotel Lincoln publican Iain Ling, both with Hakka heritage, became Co-owners of the new Chinese-ish style diner, Super Ling with Michael as the Chef.
Owner and Head Chef, Yagiz
At aged 16, Murat began his career as a kitchen hand in a five star hotel on the eastern coast of Turkey. After military service, he took up his first job at the famous Greek restaurant Zarifi in Istanbul where, in just 14 months he became the junior Sous Chef. He then moved to the highly respected French restaurant Park Samdan, for one year followed by a stint at Istanbul’s biggest nightclub Reina. Arriving in Australia in 2009, Murat’s career began at the Newcastle pub, Lass O’ Gowrie. After 3 months, he leased the kitchen for a 12 month period and successfully introduced Turkish cuisine to the city. While working as the Chef de Partie at Newcastle’s only one hatted restaurant Bacchus, he studied at Sydney’s Hospitality Tourism School, graduating after a two year course in 2013. Offered a position in Sydney he could not refuse, Murat worked for one of Sydney’s most famous chefs, My Kitchen Rules star, Colin Fassnidge in his Four in Hand kitchen. Seduced by Melbourne and to take on another challenge, he became Head Chef at the new restaurant Tulum in Balaclava in 2016. After 10 months, he decided to set up his first solo project, opening Yagiz in South Yarra in October 2017, where he continues to welcome diners to experience his interpretation of traditional Turkish cuisine.
Chef, Nick Dans Votre Cuisine’
Nick began his career on the tropical island of Mauritius where the moment he stepped into a commercial kitchen at school he knew he would always be a chef. Nick arrived in Melbourne 10 years ago. He has worked with some of Melbourne’s best including the Langham Hotel, Atlantic restaurant with Donovan Cooke, Gordon Ramsay’s Maze, the Stokehouse, St Katherine in Kew with George Calombaris and Shane Delia, and Le Grand Cirque with Manu Feildel. With his wealth of culinary experience and talent, Nick now runs a business called Nick Dans Votre Cuisine, where he goes into private homes to cook restaurant style food for all occasions.
Head Chef, Bellota Wine Bar & Food
Nicky Riemer is regarded as one of Australia’s leading chefs. After heading numerous kitchens including Langton’s, The Melbourne Wine Room and Union Dining which she successfully ran for six years, Nicky is now Head Chef at Bellota Wine Bar in South Melbourne where she shares her incredible skill and flair offering menus with contemporary Melbourne class.
Owner/Culinary Teacher, My Greek Kitchen Cooking School
Greek Cypriot born, Niki is the founder of My Greek Kitchen Cooking School. She was born into a family of passionate cooks who cherish the importance of traditional food and strive to keep it alive. Her classes revolve around what is known as the Mediterranean Diet today. She has a passion to share her food knowledge and skills and believes that anyone can learn new and easy dishes to cook in their own home kitchens.
Chef, Food & Yoga
Classically Italian trained, Paolo started work in Michelin starred restaurants such as All’Enoteca and Gioya. His overseas experiences have included the three starred Michelin Guy Savoy in England, Osteria Mozza by Mario Batali in Singapore, Noma in Copenhagen, and in Australia, Sydney’s Quay and Melbourne’s, Vue du Monde, Tippo 00, Amaru and Nora.
In 2013 Paolo became Head Chef at not-for-profit café Kinfolk, assisting with expansive renovations in 2014 and donating thousands of dollars to charity projects in and outside Australia. Paolo has also created a unique series of fine dining dinners called ‘Speak as You Eat’, donating all the profits to charity, held vegetarian pop-up dining events with sustainable, creative and healthy meals, and currently participates as a guest chef at many pop-up events and festivals.
Cooking teacher and author, MasterChef Australia Alumni
Food was an important part of Pia Gava’s Italian upbringing and there was a family dish suited to every occasion. Pia’s food memories are strongly kept alive today, with recipes like homemade pasta, special occasion sweet treats and comfort food. Pia is ensuring her family do not forget these traditions and wants to share her passion with other people so they can have the same experience. This was one of the reasons why she became a MasterChef 2017 contestant - to show her recipes can be created by everyone. Pia’s classes revolve around her many family recipes along with her own variations, she would love to share her food delights with you!
Head Chef/Owner, U, Ma & Me
Rebecca Ng was born and raised in the beautiful island of Tasmania. Surrounded by the natural beauty, fresh air and pure water, she developed an appreciation for exceptional produce. As a young child, she and her sister would pretend they were starring in their own TV cooking show. This dream brought Rebecca where she is today. As an apprentice, Rebecca won a scholarship to work alongside her idol, internationally renown chef, Tetsuya Wakuda. From this invaluable experience, she learnt the importance of precision and technique. After qualifying as a chef, she started at Longrain, Melbourne. It was there that her love for Thai food flourished. After a few years of hard work, she was rewarded with a promotion to sous chef. Prior to starting up U, Ma & Me, Rebecca was head chef at Magic Mountain Saloon. Rebecca thinks there is nothing better than home-made.
Rob Rees MBE DL
Chef/Director, Food Works Australia
Rob began his culinary career at Westminster College in London where he gained work experience at the Hyde Park Hotel, His first Chef position was at the Crescent Hotel in Bath, which was followed by culinary roles with Albert Roux and Michel Roux Jnr at Le Gavroche, Hyatt Regency Grand-Cayman Islands, Bath Spa Hotel and The Circus Restaurant. In 1994 with his brother he opened the Country Elephant in Painswick. As the Head Chef, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand and 2 AA Rosettes.
In 2005 he was awarded an MBE for his services to the food industry and was inspired to found his own social enterprises Rob Rees CIC and the Wiggly Worm Charity. In 2014 he received a Lifetime Award: Gloucestershire Media Taste Award. In 2015 he was appointed Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Gloucestershire joining a number of people as HRH Queen Elizabeth 11 representative. Moving to Melbourne in late October last year, he is collaborating with others to improve lives of the most vulnerable and reduce global inequality. Currently, in his Chef role, he is teaching culinary classes.
Chef/ Culinary Consultant
Robert Wooller is a freelance Culinary Consultant living in Country Victoria. He has competed at culinary competitions at the highest level and has run his own restaurant. English born classically trained, Robert has worked as a Chef on board the Luxury Liner QE2 cooking for the rich and famous as well as in a country English hotel. He has a wealth of experience in hospitality and the food industry travelling regularly with the focus of food as the destination. He loves to share his experiences through presenting cooking classes and writing. He specialises in bringing different cuisines to audiences in an innovative and interesting format.
Chef and Primary School Teacher, Sweetpea Cuisine
Sally Lukey is a trained, registered and experienced primary teacher who is a foodie at heart. Growing up her Pa was a baker and Nana was a master of the apple pie. The kitchen was always somewhere Sally felt at home. Sally gained invaluable experience assisting and working with some of Australia's most loved and well known foodies, studied Commercial Cookery and eventually launched her food based consultancy Sweetpea Cuisine.
Chef, Poacher & Hound
Sam finished his Chef apprenticeship at The Botanic Gardens restaurant in Adelaide. Moving to Melbourne he worked under Philippe Mouchel at Langton’s along with other chefs including Scott Pickett, Joe Vargetto, Stewart Bell and Sascha Randle. At 23 he became Head Chef of Winter Haven for a ski season in Falls Creek, where he won a Best Restaurant award across the three main Victorian mountains. In 2002 he spent 2 years living locally and gaining experience in Bavaria, Germany before returning in 2004 to work casually with Philippe at his Brasserie in Crown. It was here, Philippe introduced him to Sous Vide cuisine which Sam then developed into a meal delivery service called Customcuisine.
In 2009 he joined Salvatore Malatesta to open Tsubu, a Japanese inspired Izakaya in Melbourne Uni’s 1888 building. Following its sale, Sam again worked as Philippe’s sous Chef at the short lived De ja vue. In 2015, with an old house mate, work began on a contemporary café called Poacher & Hound which opened in 2016.
Chef, Foodsmart Solutions
Scott qualified as a chef in England and travelled to Australia in 1994. His career took off in Melbourne at the Grand Hyatt, Crown Casino and The Westin. During this time he gained qualifications including certificates in Commercial and Asian Cookery, Patisserie and a Diploma in Hospitality Management. He also holds a Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment and for the past 12 years has also worked as a qualified Culinary Trainer in Australia and South-East Asia. During his 25 year career in hospitality and education Scott has worked with notable chefs including Gary Rhodes, Rick Stein, Antonio Carluccio and our local legend Stephanie Alexander. He has recently created a popular Cookery Master Program. This is a comprehensive online program designed to teach people with little or no experience how to cook no fuss, simple dishes every day. His digital cook book, ‘Quick Easy Recipes-Discover Why Cooking is Easier Than You Think’ is planned for release later this year.
Co-owner/Chef, Smith & Daughters
Shannon has cooked since she can remember. Due to the influence of her paternal Spanish family and her outside the square innovative talents she has contributed to top vegetarian and vegan kitchens across Melbourne over the past 20 years. With her business partner, Mo Wyse, they opened their restaurant Smith & Daughters in Fitzroy in 2014. Since then they have published their first cook book Smith & Daughters: A Cookbook (That Happens to be Vegan), and in 2015 opened Smith & Deli in Moor Street an all vegan convenience store and deli.
Sous Chef, Maha
Simon’s cooking career began in New Zealand working in his father’s Oceania restaurant before joining Logan Brown, renowned as one of the best in the country. Moving to Melbourne in 2013, Simon started work at The Point in Albert Park learning further cooking skills from Head Chefs Justin Wise and Andrew Harmer. His next position was at Sapore in St Kilda working as a Sous chef. This was his first step in running a major kitchen and learning about Italian cuisine its simplicity and use of fresh produce. In 2015, Simon took a Sous Chef position with Shane Delia and Daniel Giraldo at Maha Restaurant and Bar to gain experience in unrestricted Middle Eastern-style cuisine. When time permits from working at Maha, culinary adventures have taken him to France, Spain and South America.
Head Chef, Highline at The Railway Hotel
Simon was born and raised in Bundaberg, North Queensland before moving to Brisbane where he fell in love with cooking. After completing his apprenticeship through the five star Hilton Hotel, Simon packed his bags and moved to London where he gained experience in numerous Michelin starred restaurants including Pied a Terre and the Berkeley with Marcus Wareing. His first job was with renowned English Chef, Jason Atherton at the 1 Michelin Star Maze. Next, he worked for the inspirational Clare Smyth at the 3 Michelin Star Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Returning to Australia Simon worked at Quay in Sydney for Peter Gilmore. In 2014 he was nominated for the Appetite for Excellence, Young Chef of the Year Awards eventually becoming a National Finalist. In October of that year, he was appointed the Head Chef at The Railway Hotel in Windsor. The Highline Restaurant was created and has gone on to win many awards for its contemporary Australian menu including a Chef’s Hat in the Age Good Food Awards in 2017 and 2018. Highline showcases the best seasonal Australian produce sourced from local growers and the hotel’s own Oak Valley farm located in the Strathbogie Ranges.
Culinary Teacher, Miris Products & Miristrails
Sonali Peiris started Miris products, named after the Sinhalese word for chilli, in 2005 with a traditional mustard recipe handed down through four generations of Sri-Laken women. The hand crafted range has grown to 14 products including award winning chutneys, sauces and dukkahs. Wishing to preserve her Burgher-Sinhalese heritage, Sonali convinced her mother to share recipes acquired in a traditional family where festivities were celebrations of food. Currently they are collaborating on a Sri-Lankan cook book. Sonali’s passion for this tropical island has led her to share her knowledge in presenting cooking classes and, undertaking cultural and culinary tours to its’ different regions.
Head Chef, San Telmo Restaurant
Following a two-year stint as Sous Chef at San Telmo, Stephen’s creativity, attention to detail and passion for Argentinian cuisine earned him the Head Chef position in 2018. Before coming to Melbourne he worked under Zeb Gilbert of Wsabi in Noosa Queensland and then with Sam Steck of Heart Attack & Vine in Carlton upon his move to Victoria. Extensive travels throughout South America further inspired him to share its authentic flavours and cooking techniques, echoing the Argentine ethos that life and love should always be shared over good food and wine. Stephen was nominated for the Time Out’s New Hot Talent award in 2016 and has won the Golden Empanada competition at World Malbec Day two years in a row. He also played an integral role in San Telmo winning the Best Steak Restaurant at the 2015 Restaurant & Catering Awards.
Steven’s career started at Stephanie’s, followed by a year in Sydney with Tony Tan as Head Chef of Tatler’s Café, and a further two years as Head Chef at Stephanie’s. In 1987, he joined the Japanese Kenzan restaurant, where he studied intensively with master sushi chefs to become the first non-Japanese to be trained in Japanese cuisine and sushi. In 2004, he authored a book Simply Sushi and was awarded a Festival Legend by the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Recently, Steven left the William Angliss Institute after many years to begin consulting. Photo via MFWF.
Head Chef , Tokyo Tina
Nepalese born Sushil Aryal has fond memories of his mother’s cooking and the significance food played in his family. Spending more time eating than cooking in his early years, he developed a remarkable palate that has seen him travel 22 countries in one year and work in Melbourne’s most cherished venues. Commencing his professional training as a chef at 18, Sushil has spent 12 years within the hospitality industry. His experience includes stints at Cumulus Inc, The Vue Group’s Jardin Tan, Moon Under Water and most recently at Cutler &Co as Sous Chef. Each restaurant has cultivated his passion for the industry and developed the necessary skillset to take on his new position within the Commune group as Head Chef of Tokyo Tina.
An experienced Chef within indepth knowledge of natural food and nutrition, he enjoys teaching the benefits of good food. Tony is the author of Eating Well and Feel Good Food.
Executive Chef, Taxi Dining Room
Tony has been cooking since he was a boy, moving to Melbourne at the age of 17 to work at Luciano’s, before starting his apprenticeship at The Stokehouse. His passion for modern Thai and Chinese cuisine is well known and he continually explores his love of this cuisine through travel. He is currently the Executive Chef at Taxi Kitchen at Federation Square.
Chef, Author & Culinary Tour Host
Tracey first came to Hanoi in Vietnam after 15 years in the Melbourne restaurant scene. She put her extensive hospitality experience to good use at Koto, a grass- roots charity. As the first chef/trainer her contribution transformed disadvantaged young people into sought after hospitality professionals. In April 2008 she opened the Hanoi Cooking Centre, a purpose built cooking school and café. Tracey is acknowledged as an expert in Vietnamese food as evident by her appointment as Executive Chef of the 1,000 years of Hanoi state banquet for 900 dignitaries. Tracey is also the successful author of several Vietnamese cookbooks: Koto, Vietnamese Street Food, Real Vietnamese Cooking, and Made in Vietnam.
Culinary Teacher, Blue Chilli Kitchen
Van Le-Hugh was born in Central Vietnam into a family of six, so meal times were all about sharing the enjoyment. Having travelled widely overseas her passion is to share her knowledge and teach healthy, fast and easy home style Vietnamese cooking.
Head Chef, The Hardware Societe
Wade’s culinary journey started in his home town of Wellington New Zealand, as a teenage whilst studying Finance at university. His first job was at Hummingbird Eatery & Bar where he learnt the basics of kitchen life after which he took a position with Shaun Clouston at the fine dining restaurant Logan Brown. Being a key member of the team that won the N.Z. Restaurant of the Year in 2009 really fuelled his passion for cooking full time. A visit to Melbourne in 2011 to work as part of a pop up restaurant promoting Wellington tourism inspired Wade to move here permanently. His first position was with Jesse Gerner at The Aylesbury (now Bomba) where he was introduced to high level Spanish cooking. Seasonal, well thought out plates shaped the way he likes to cook today. After this experience Wade transitioned into the café scene working at the ionic St Ali and Proud Mary. Currently he is the Head Chef across both venues of The Hardware Societe in the CBD. His cooking is inspired by the seasons with a focus on vegetables. Less is more. Simple is good.
Head Chef/Director, Lucy Liu
Zac travelled overseas for three years, living and working in Sweden before returning to Melbourne to further his passion for cooking. He took a position with Michael Lambie at Taxi Dining Room where, after a five year period, he took over running the kitchen. A Sous Chef position at Port Phillip Estate on the Mornington Peninsula followed before he was invited to open The Smith in Prahran in 2011. Zac recently opened Lucy Liu where he is currently a director and Head Chef.