Jake McKenzie, Proud to Be a Chef 2015 winner
Young Victorian wins top spot in Fonterra Proud To Be A Chef Culinary Comp

Jake McKenzie from Sale in South East Victoria has won the 17th annual Fonterra Proud to be a Chef mentoring program.

The announcement was made at the Fonterra Proud to be a Chef Gala dinner event attended by some of Australia’s top chefs, leaders of the culinary industry, and past and current finalists of the renowned program.

Jake McKenzie fought it out in the kitchen against 32 fellow apprentice chefs, taking out the top prize of $7,500 to spend on an international culinary placement tailored to his professional aspirations.

Jake, who studies at The Gordon Institute of TAFE in Victoria and works at Tinamba Hotel in Gippsland, said he was thrilled to have been presented with the opportunity to participate in such a renowned culinary competition and was looking forward to the upcoming international culinary placement.

“Being a finalist in the Proud to be a Chef program has been so rewarding in itself and will truly benefit not only my career, but the careers of the entire finalist group – we’ve learnt so much over the past few days and have had the opportunity to network with passionate and influential people in the industry.”

“To be presented with the finalist opportunity and then receive the international culinary placement is such an amazing experience. I work in a small country town, so to have the opportunity to go overseas and develop as a chef is really exciting,” said Jake.

This year’s program saw the talented finalist group mentored by esteemed Australian culinary leaders Anna Polyviou, Executive Pastry Chef at Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney, Josh Pelham, Head Chef at ESP and Estelle in Melbourne, and Peter Wright, Foodservice Expert and Global Event Specialist.

The finalists were evaluated on their participation in masterclasses, the creativity and technical skill demonstrated in their original recipe, and their passion and commitment to the foodservice industry.

Fonterra Proud to be a Chef program coordinator Carolyn Plummer said there was fierce competition in the kitchen with the calibre and enthusiasm of finalists exceptionally high.

“We’re excited to announce Jake as the 2016 winner of the Fonterra Proud to be a Chef mentoring program and are looking forward to supporting his bright future in the foodservice industry,” said Carolyn.

Carolyn also praised the strong support the program receives from the industry, citing the continued involvement of the William Angliss Institute as well as the time and energy contributed by a number of industry professionals, beyond those involved as mentors in the program.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Fonterra and everyone involved in the Proud to be a Chef program for such a fantastic opportunity – it’s without a doubt a money-can’t-buy experience and I strongly encourage up and coming apprentice chefs to apply for next year’s program, you won’t regret it!” Jake said.

Applications for the 2017 Fonterra Proud to be a Chef mentoring program will open in the second half of 2016. Updates will be posted throughout the year at: facebook.com/proudtobeachef