Top Regional Chefs in Culinary Challenge

Eight of the region's top young chefs showed off their culinary skills in Tamworth yesterday.

Eight of the region's top young chefs showed off their culinary skills in Tamworth yesterday. In teams of two, the chefs from Armidale, Tamworth and Coffs Harbour produced a two-course meal at Tamworth TAFE in a bid to score a finalist spot in the 2016 Nestle Golden Chef's Hat Award.

The Nestlé Golden Chef's Hat Award is dedicated to helping junior and apprentice chefs develop their cooking skills and broaden their culinary horizons. It's the longest running culinary competition in Australia that offers young chefs the chance to really find out where they are as a chef, by pitting themselves against their peers and benchmarking their cooking skills. Taking part in the awards provides young chefs with the added opportunity of being mentored by culinary instructors and given access to a national network of professional chefs.

Students were judged on all aspects of their cooking skills. Forty per cent of their marks were for preparation, food handling, cleanliness, hygiene and personal presentation,10 per cent was on the presentation of the food and 50 per cent on taste.

The competition has been running for 50 years, but this was the first time a heat was held in a regional area. Australian Culinary Federation president Neil Abrahams told the Northern Daily Leader "I've been pushing for two years to bring it to regional areas, coming from a rural background, I think it's important that these guys get the same opportunities as those in metropolitan areas."

The day offered an opportunity for teams to build good friendships and gave participants a chance to learn different techniques and get feedback from the judges.

Fellow judge, and Tamworth chef, Graham Manvell told The Daily Leader it was interesting to watch so many different techniques at work. "Even if they don't win, they will learn so much from others and meet other people in the industry and hone their skills," he said. "There was a good nervous tension in the kitchen." Mr Manvell said it was fantastic that these young chefs had the "heart" to participate in the competition."It gets them thinking about different produce and the chance to go out on a limb," he said. "They can maybe do something they don't do at work."The winning team of the national competition will win a trip to the US where they have the chance to work in top restaurants and visit the Culinary Institute of America.