Guest Chefs

The Neff Market Kitchen proudly presents



Ai Bate

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.

Current Classes with Ai

Alejandro Saravia

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.

Current Classes with Alejandro

Alex Meimetis

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.

Current Classes with Alex

Alex Xinis

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.

Current Classes with Alex

Amy Dewhirst

Chef/Owner , Tapas and Pinchos by Amy Marie

Amy is a qualified Chef with over 17 years experience in the hospitality industry. After completing her apprenticeship in Canberra, she travelled to Europe taking a position at a four star restaurant in the Grassmarket, Edinburgh. Following this experience she lived in Spain for a year working at a popular Pincho Bar in Pamplona, Navarra’s capital city in North Spain. It was here that her passion for Spanish culture and food began. On her return, Amy became Head Chef of the Country Comfort Hotel in Wagga Wagga N.S.W for 2 years. Moving to Melbourne she worked as the Chef de partie at the then new, Movida Aqui followed by a position as Sous Chef at Bar Lourinha. Amy also started teaching Spanish cooking classes, returning to Wagga Wagga’s community college 2 or 3 times a year. After some work at Movida original this year she is now the part-time Senior Chef de partie at Bar Lourinha. Other work includes teaching at the renowned Foodiam Cooking School in Wagga, taking ‘pop up’ classes in the city and catering for small functions through her 'Tapas and Pinchos by Amy' business.

Current Classes with Amy

Andy Harmer

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.

Current Classes with Andy

Bernadette Cheet

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.

Current Classes with Bernadette

Brad Simpson

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.

Current Classes with Brad

Bryce Edwards

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.

Current Classes with Bryce

Caroline Gray

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.

Current Classes with Caroline

Chaowarat (Arte) Assavakavinvong

Head Chef, Village People Hawker Food Hall

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.

Current Classes with Chaowarat

Charlie Carrington

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.

Current Classes with Charlie

Charlotte Miller

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.

Current Classes with Charlotte

Chris Lillico

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.

Current Classes with Chris

Chris Watson

Head Chef, Cutler & Co

Chris began his career as an apprentice in his home town, Grafton New South Wales. His passion for food was inspired by his father at an early age. In 2004 he arrived in Melbourne to work with Andrew Mc Connell both at Circa, the Prince and Dining Room 312. Work with Ben Shewry at Attica followed before traveling to London where he spent a year at Claude Bosi’s two Michelin star restaurant, Hibiscus. Returning to Melbourne, he was appointed Head Chef of Andrew O’Connell’s Cutler & Co. In May 2014, Chris continued his partnership with Andrew becoming Co-owner and Executive Chef of Luxembourg. He has now returned to the Head Chef role at Cutler & Co.

Current Classes with Chris

Dai Duong

Owner/ Head Chef, Uncle

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 new restaurant Uncle in St Kilda.

Current Classes with Dai

Daniel Giraldo

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.

Current Classes with Daniel

Daniel Hawkins

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.

Current Classes with Daniel

Daniel James

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.

Current Classes with Daniel

Daniel Wilson

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.

Current Classes with Daniel

Danielle Rensonnet

Head Chef, Beneath Driver Lane Bar

Danielle’s career started in legendary Melbourne kitchens including 312 and St Judes Cellars. Traveling overseas to Europe saw her take up positions on super yachts and as a private chef in countries including Greece and Turkey. It was in Southern France and Spain that her passion for European classics, in particular bistro food, deepened. She returned after 4 years, heading up the team at 'Bellota Wine Bar' in South Melbourne as well as working as Head Chef at Paul Wilson's, 'Wilson & Market'. In late 2017, she joined the 'Beneath Driver Lane Bar' team in the CBD as Head Chef.

Current Classes with Danielle

David Gilligan

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.

Current Classes with David

Dino Na

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.

Current Classes with Dino

Emma Mackay

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.

Current Classes with Emma

Fel Gayanilo

Head Chef, Mister Bianco

Fel moved to Melbourne with his family from the Philippines in 2000. He started his career at Café Fidama in Yarraville under Mark Cohen. After completing his apprenticeship course at William Angliss Institute, Fel gained further experience in various positions between 2006-2011 including Swallows in Port Melbourne, Hobson's Bay Hotel in Williamstown, BLVD Bar in Southbank, and the sister bar to Scusami, before joining Ron O’Brien at the Rising Star Hotel, South Melbourne then at the Vine Hotel in Collingwood. In 2013 he joined Joe Vargetto at Mister Bianco where he is now the Head Chef.

Current Classes with Fel

James McLennan

Head Chef , Bomba Bar

James worked in several London and Manchester restaurants including the 3 rosette Aurora, fine dining Japanese Ithaca and Michelin starred Juniper. Further experience was gained over several years at Harvey Nichols store in Knightsbridge including a year in the pastry section. James arrived in Melbourne 5 years ago working with Justin Wise at The Point Albert Park and Tony Twichett at Taxi Dining Room before accepting the Head Chef position at Bomba Tapas Bar in 2015.

Current Classes with James

Jesse Gerner

Owner/Chef, Añada & Bomba Tapas Bar

Añada is strongly influenced by the peasant food of Andalucia, Southern Spain and the flavours of the Muslim Mediterranean. Jesse fell in love with this style of eating during his travels and also from his experience working at Moro and The River Cafe in London. Continuing with the food he loves, Jesse opened Bomba, a Spanish workers bar offering simple, well executed Spanish tapas.

Current Classes with Jesse

Jessie Alice

Cooking teacher, Leftover Lovers

Jessie is one of the founding members of Leftover Lovers, an organization aiming to diminish the huge amount of food waste that is being created daily. Food production, transport and processing is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases. However, food is one of the largest industrial and commercial wastes and it is estimated that one third of all food worldwide is thrown away. Leftover Lovers aim is to educate people about food waste, work with local businesses and organisations to help reduce their waste, and to re-distribute this to our community via food boxes.

Current Classes with Jessie

Jo Barrett

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’.

Current Classes with Jo

Joe Grbac

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 he is currently planning to open Saxe, his first solo restaurant venture, in September.

Current Classes with Joe

John Casey

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.

Current Classes with John

John Macleay

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.

Current Classes with John

Joseph Vargetto

Owner/Head Chef, Mr Bianco

Joseph, a renowned Chef, has been awarded and regularly recognised by The Age Good Food Guide, having represented Australia in France at the prestigious Bocuse D’or. Antonio Carluccio also named him as Australia’s best risotto chef! He created his own Brasserie and Bar in the city Oyster Little Bourke and the Sicilian-style Mezzo Bar & Grill. In 2011 opened the award-winning Mr Bianco.

Current Classes with Joseph

Lasse Povlsen

Chef, Consulting at Mr & Mrs. Anderson

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 moved from restaurants to cafes, and recently set up his own consultancy in Richmond to help businesses get off the ground.

Current Classes with Lasse

Laura Neville

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.

Current Classes with Laura

Lou Wong

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.

Current Classes with Lou

Luke Croston

Head Chef, The Press Club

After working at the two Michelin starred Serge Vieira restaurant in the Catalan region of France, Luke returned to work at Punch Lane before joining The Press Club and working alongside George Calombaris.

Current Classes with Luke

Mal Williams

Head Chef, Queen of the South

French trained, Mal has worked extensively throughout Mexico, discovering its authentic and diverse cuisine. Following work as a chef at the now closed, Senoritas, in Melbourne, he joined Touché Hombre as Head Chef working both here and in Bangkok where he opened their new branch. It was there he introduced Mexican to Asia incorporating a cross-over menu with Thai flavour influences. Currently he is the Head Chef of Mexican restaurant, Queen of the South in Prahran. Here, he has introduced a modern menu with vegan options to compliment his passion for Mexican cooking.

Current Classes with Mal

Martin Zozaya

Head Chef, El Atino & Co

Martin’s love of the hospitality industry began at an early age at home in Argentina where his family entertained guests regularly. Destined to be a Chef his career has taken him around the world to work in Mexico, Buenos Aires, Barcelona and Madrid. A career highlight was catering for the President of Argentina at the Mexican Embassy. Arriving in Melbourne he is now Co-owner and Head Chef of El Atino & Co, a Latin American store, café and cooking school in Richmond.

Current Classes with Martin

Matteo Tine

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.

Current Classes with Matteo

Matteo Toffano

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.

Current Classes with Matteo

Murat Ovaz

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, Yagiz in South Yarra. Since opening in October 2017, Murat has been awarded a prestigious hat in the Australian Good Food Guide

Current Classes with Murat

Nicky Riemer

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.

Current Classes with Nicky

Niki Louca

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.

Current Classes with Niki

Paolo Arlotta

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.

Current Classes with Paolo

Paul Raynor

Owner/Chef, The Middle Brighton Baths

Paul began his culinary journey at Grimsby College of Technology where his determination for cooking was noticed by his lecturer, Mick Cooper, who arranged a placement at the Royal Berkshire Hotel in Ascot.

Other kitchen positions followed including Hanbury Manor in Hertfordshire under Rory Kennedy, and consultant Albert Roux, and the iconic Quaglino in London under Executive Chef, Martin Webb. In 1995, Paul worked in Paris at Bertie’s, winning the award for Best International Restaurant. In Melbourne, Paul worked at Georges on Collins Street then as Executive Chef at the St Kilda Stokehouse before moving to The Middle Brighton Baths in 2002. After three years he joined the Werribee Mansion as Executive Chef and at the same time ran his own Embassy 97 Café in St Kilda for two years. He is now proud owner of The Middle Brighton Baths.

Current Classes with Paul

Paul Tyas

Head Chef, Grosvenor Hotel

Paul completed his apprenticeship at a number of well known Melbourne restaurants including The Point Albert Park, Arintji, alongside Daniel Wilson and Jacques Reymond, and at Reserve with George Calombaris. Eager to expand his horizons, Paul spent a year working at The Bentley for Andrew Turner, where he learnt the art of classic French cooking. After time in France at Challet Rosset, he returned to London and accepted his first Sous Chef position at Bleeding Heart, under Peter Reffel. Back in Melbourne he worked as Sous Chef under Scott Pickett at The Point, and represented Victoria in the Bocuse d’or Australian trial. Currently he is HeadChef at The Grosvenor Hotel.

Current Classes with Paul

Philippe Mouchel

Owner/Chef, Philippe

Rated as one of the world’s finest French Chefs, Philippe Mouchel was born in Normandy and began his career at the age of 16. Undertaking his apprenticeship at the Hotel Le Grand Cerf, Evreux, Philippe soon relocated to Bordeaux where he met Roger Jaloux, chef for Paul Bocuse. His classes are always true to his French heritage but in a healthier, less fussy way that is ideal for contemporary palates. Expect a menu with the best seasonal produce.

Current Classes with Philippe

Pia Gava

MasterChef Australia Contestant 2017

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!

Current Classes with Pia

Rebecca Ng

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.

Current Classes with Rebecca

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.

Current Classes with Rob

Robert Wooller

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.

Current Classes with Robert

Russell Hall

Executive Chef, Anada Bar & Restaurant

After finishing his apprenticeship with Jacques Reymond, Russell joined the Taxi Kitchen as a junior Sous Chef before travelling overseas to London where he secured a position in as Head Chef at Below Zero by Ice Hotel. Currently he is the Executive Chef at Jesse Gerner’s Anada Bar & Restaurant.

Current Classes with Russell

Sally Lukey

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.

Current Classes with Sally

Sam Bate

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.

Current Classes with Sam

Shannon Martinez

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.

Current Classes with Shannon

Sonali Peiris

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.

Current Classes with Sonali

Steven Pallett


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.

Current Classes with Steven

Sunny Gilbert


Sunny started his career in the Northern Territory where he studied commercial cookery at the Palmerston University. At that time he held consultancies for Australian Food Promotions at the Regal UN Plaza New York and the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club. In 1998 he commenced his career in hotels, taking the Chef de Partie role at the Novotel Atrium before moving to Melbourne in 2000 to work as Executive Chef at the Mercure Hotel. Before joining Austin’s at the Mount Erica Hotel Sunny held managerial positions across many Melbourne venues including Orange and the popular Movida Next Door. He is now consulting.

Current Classes with Sunny

Tim Keenan

Chef/ Hospitality Consultant, TK Restaurant Consulting 

Tim Kennan returns from London, having worked at the famed River Café and The Connaught Hotel with Gordon Ramsay and Angela Hartnett. Tim joined Guy Grossi at Florentino before taking up Executive Chef positions at leading wineries including De Bortoli in the Yarra Valley. Now a restaurant consultant he still loves to dabble and teach cooking.

Current Classes with Tim

Tony Chiodo


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.

Current Classes with Tony

Tony Twichett

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.

Current Classes with Tony

Tracey Lister

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.

Current Classes with Tracey

Van Le-Hugh

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.

Current Classes with Van

Wade Kennedy

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.

Current Classes with Wade

Zac Cribbes

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.

Current Classes with Zac